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Photographers Arrested For Posting 'Modelling' Images

Iran -- screen grab of Instagram account of Maedeh Hojabri, who was detained for posting videos in July 2018.

Several photographers have been arrested in Shiraz, 481 km (298 miles) south of Iran’s capital, Tehran, for posting "obscene" pictures and images described as "modelling" on their Instagram accounts.

Iranian government's official news agency (IRNA) cited the Prosecutor-General of Shiraz, Ali Salehi, as saying on Saturday, October 13, "A number of the city's photographers have been detained for posting “improper photos" adding that their Instagram accounts have been blocked for promoting "corruption and fornication".

The prosecutor’s office has not mentioned how many photographers have been detained.

Meanwhile, IRNA says that the detainees had posted photos that are known as "modelling" pictures in Iran. Usually, these are not photos of naked people, but show models in cloths or postures that are deemed inappropriate by strict Islamic standards.

Furthermore, according to IRNA, several Instagram accounts belonging to an unknown number of Shirazi photographers have been blocked since late last week.

Some of the photographers, whose Instagram accounts have been filtered by the Islamic Republic's Judicial Department have insisted that they have never been active in the field of "modelling".

"We have only posted photos of one or two men who are close friends of ours", one photographer using Instagram told IRNA.

The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), which intervenes in almost all matters of daily life in Iran, has recently launched an operation code-named Spider Project II (SP II) to monitor activities on the internet.

Since its establishment, SP II has detained hundreds of cyber space users, particularly those on Instagram, accusing them of being active in the field of "modelling".

Two years ago, a court in Shiraz sentenced twelve suspects to a total of 379 months jail time for being active in the modelling business and posting images related to it on the Internet.

Commander of the Islamic Republic's Cyberspace Police also announced last May that it had discovered 51,000 "indecent", "absurd" and "obscene" accounts on Instagram and was attempting to identify the admins of the pages.

The Islamic Republic has always been ultra-sensitive toward activities on cyberspace, particularly those related to Shiite beliefs, and has recently established an exclusive department affiliated with the deputy Prosecutor-General's office to tackle so-called "internet crimes".

Since its launching, the Islamic Republic's cyber police unit, FATA, has played a key role in Iran’s efforts to block the Internet. The cyber police monitors Iranians who express even mild opposition to the ruling establishment’s policies or try to circulate images and reports concerning political unrest, labor strikes, and protest rallies through social media.