This just in: Iran has found a new subject to arbitrarily accuse of ludicrous charges. This time, it’s Kim Kardashian who is Iran’s latest enemy of the state – accused by Iran of being a “secret agent” of Instagram.
The story initially appeared on Iran Wire, developed further in People and in the NYmag. The articles revolve around the recent crackdown by the Iranian authorities on social media accounts that don’t conform to the modesty standards of the regime, which entailed shutting down accounts and arresting models.
As absurd as the accusation may be, one should not take the Iranians lightly. Only recently fashion models have been arrested and forced to flee the country, entertainers have undergone custody and forced confessions, and more than 170 Iranian individuals have been “warned” (reported also in vanity Fair). One target was model and television personality Elham Arab, who was arrested and forced to give a televized confession likening social media networks to traps. Their common crime was that they do not conform with the “Islamic lifestyle” and they enjoyed social media popularity.
So now, according to Iran, Kim Kardashian is a secret agent behind the traps. The famously half-Armenian celebrity was accused by the spokesman of the cyberspace unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) of being an Instagram mole paid to make modelling “native” in Iran and corrupt its youth.
The English-language media, unsurprisingly, reported it with more than a pinch of sarcasm. “We are taking this very seriously,” read the lead of Vanity Fair’s take on the story – citing the IRGC spokesman, but also mocking him; The Daily Mail, meanwhile, went with ‘Secret Agent Selfies’. The Daily Beast, which syndicated IranWire’s article, published it under the tagline “Keeping Up with the Mullahs.” But it also went a step further by pairing the story with a photo illustration of a woman, whose face is blurred, taking a selfie against the backdrop of an Iranian flag.
And Kardashian? She was defiant, promising more selfies as she accepted an award this week. Clearly, the mullahs are no match for Kim K., nor for those Iranians – such as those participating in the My Stealthy Freedom campaign, still going strong with almost a million likes – who courageously use social media to express themselves.