A couple from Iran, Ahmad Moin-Shirazi and Shabnam Shahrokhi, has been sentenced to a total of 16 years in prison, 74 lashes and three months of unpaid labour in absentia by the Iranian court, for posting “propaganda against the regime”, “obscene and vulgar” content and “spreading moral corruption” through their popular Instagram account, reported the Iranian new channel Radio Farda.
With over half a million followers on Instagram, Moin-Shirazi, an entrepreneur and former kickboxing champion was sentenced to nine years in prison, while Shabnam Shahrokhi was sentenced to seven years in prison, 74 lashes and three months of unpaid labour by the country’s Revolutionary Court system. Shirazi and his wife Shabnam Shahrokhi are currently in self-exile in Turkey with their two children.
The couple realised that they were being targeted by the Iranian government some time ago, with the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence summoned them on several occasions and interrogated them for hours at a time. During these meetings, interrogators reportedly told Moin-Shirazi to stop uploading posts and pictures critical of Iran’s domestic policies as well as pictures of his wife without a hijab on.
The social media couple, in 2019, took their two children and fled the country, and are now in self-exile in neighbouring Turkey. They were informed of the court’s sentence through their lawyer, who is going to try to appeal against the verdict.
Social media ban in Iran
Iran has been inherently regressive and obstructive whereas social media is concerned. In January last year, authorities in Iran were preparing to block access to Instagram, extending their crackdown on social media to the only major platform still freely available.
However, despite attempts by the regime to restrict the access, million of Iranians stay connected to the world through social media platforms, even if it means skirting government restrictions.