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Iran Arrests 8 for ‘Un-Islamic’ Online Modeling

FILE - An Iranian policewoman (R) warns women about their clothing and hair during a crackdown to enforce Islamic dress code in Tehran, April 23, 2007.

Iranian police have cracked down on women posting pictures of themselves online with their hair uncovered.

Eight female models who posted photos of themselves uncovered have been arrested and charged with “un-Islamic acts.”

Women in Iran have been required to cover their hair in public ever since the 1979 revolution.

The move appears to be part of a broader effort by Iranian conservatives to strike at artists, journalists and other activists.

According to the BBC, Iran said the arrests were made to stem "threats to morality and the foundation of family” caused by social media.

The Associated Press reports the operation was called Spider II and focused on Instagram users.

The eight arrested were only a fraction of the 170 people that Iranian investigators said were involved with online modeling.

A spokesman of the Iranian Centre for Surveying and Combating Organized Cyber Crimes, Mostafa Alizadeh, told the BBC that "sterilizing popular cyberspaces is on our agenda. We carried out this plan in 2013 with Facebook, and now Instagram is the focus." He said there would be more actions in the near future.

Neither Instagram nor its parent company, Facebook, have commented.

According to U.S.-based civil liberties watchdog Freedom House, access to the Internet in Iran is “not free” due to government imposed censorship.

In May of 2014, some young Iranians, both men and women, posted a video of themselves dancing to the popular Pharrell Williams song, “Happy.” They were arrested, given suspended sentences of six months and received 91 lashes.