In fight against Western decadence, Iranian prosecutor attacks ‘actions that run counter to the values of the establishment’

The New York Times reports: Iran’s judiciary unleashed one of its periodic crackdowns on social media permissiveness on Sunday, announcing the arrest of eight people involved in online modeling without a mandatory head scarf and questioning another woman, a former model, live on state television on Sunday.

A blogger, Mehdi Abutorabi, 53, who managed a publishing tool called Persian Blog, was also detained, the semiofficial student news agency ISNA reported Monday.

The former model, Elham Arab, 26, had been something of an Instagram star, posting pictures of herself in bridal gowns with eye-catching, dyed-blond hair. But on Sunday, months after her Instagram account had been shut down, she wore a pious black scarf and matching gloves as she was questioned by two prosecutors during a live television program.

In sharp contrast to the happy and glamorous images of herself posted online, Ms. Arab spoke of her “bitter experiences” in Iran’s technically illegal modeling industry and warned young women to think twice before posting pictures of themselves online. “You can be certain that no man would want to marry a model whose fame has come by losing her honor,” she said.

The head scarf issue often features prominently in the constant tug of war between powerful hard-liners and Iran’s increasingly urbanized and worldly society. Iran’s laws require that all women, even visiting foreigners, cover their hair out of a traditional respect for culture and morality. Many hard-liners view the obligatory veil as a last-ditch defense against what they say is an onslaught of Western cultural decadence.

But the main culprit was not Ms. Arab, Tehran’s public prosecutor, Abbas Jafar-Dolatabadi, concluded on the television program. No, the main offender was “the enemy,” Iran’s household label for the West and its unwanted influences.

“The enemy is investing in order to create a generation without any willpower,” the prosecutor said of social media. “We must refrain from any actions that run counter to the values of the establishment.” [Continue reading…]

IranWire reports: In March, Iran’s online authorities shut down the Instagram pages of several well-known models, as well as those of hair salons and photography workshops. In their place, online visitors found a large blue frame with the caption “These pages are blocked by the authority of Operation Spider 2 to open security cases by order of the judiciary.” They did not provide any details about the operation, which became known as “the spider attacks.”

Now, Dolatabadi has explained what the so-called “spider attacks” were all about. “In the past two years, a lot of good things have been done in the fight against hair salons and fashion workshops related to modeling,” he said. “In operations Spider 1 and Spider 2, around 50 hair salons, 50 fashion workshops, and 50 photography workshops were prosecuted. Individuals were arrested and pages were shut down by the supervisor of the Prosecution Office for Media Crimes.”

At the same time, the website Gerdab, which promotes news about Revolutionary Guards’ online activities, reported on what it called the successes of Operation Spider 2 over the past two years.

Gerdab’s report accused the “secret supporters and operators of Instagram” of attempting to subvert the “Islamic Iranian lifestyle.” It championed what it called an important achievement in combating “modeling and vulgarity.”

“The first phase resulted in the creation of an accurate database of more than 300 Instagram pages,” the report said, quoting the Organized Cyberspace Crimes Unit of the Revolutionary Guards. “The database is an intelligent collection of specifics about these pages such as postings, followers, those who are followed, the ‘likes,’ the comment writers, addresses of [account users on sites] such as Facebook, Line, and Telegram, and emails, phone numbers, addresses and bank account numbers.” [Continue reading…]

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