Living in Iran isn't all that bad – at least if you belong to the top one percent. An Instagram account called "Rich Kids of Tehran" has made that fact abundantly clear.
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The account purported to show "the world how beautiful Tehran and people from Tehran are," and featured photos of Iranian youths flaunting Rolexes and Maseratis, sunning themselves by the pool, and living the high-life in general, much like rich kids everywhere.
The expansive media attention that the account had drawn evidently prompted its owners to delete the images on Thursday, after the publication of this report.
Most interesting were the photographs showing skimpily-clad women, in flagrant violation of Iran's dress code, which mandates a hijab, or head garb, for women. Other photographs even showed what appears to be alcohol, also illegal in the Islamic Republic. According to Business Insider, though house parties and drinking are part of the lifestyle of Iranian youth, these activities are done behind closed doors, and definitely not exposed so freely over the Internet.
However, according to The Times, many of the youths featured on "Rich Kids of Tehran" are the children of Iran's business elite and are therefore untouched by the regime's harsh hand.
The administrators of "Rich Kids of Tehran" told Business Insider the aim of their endeavor was to improve their country's public image.
"The aim of our page is to show the world the good side of Iran. Every time Iran is mentioned on TV or news, they always talk negatively and we are trying to show the good side," they told Business Insider.
Whether they were successful or not, they definitely got the attention of the incredulous world media, which is more used to cover stories like the lashing sentence imposed on the producers of the Iranian "Happy" tribute or the execution of gays. The account had raked tens of thousands of followers, nearing the 100K mark as of Thursday.
Before the photos were deleted, the Iranian regime blocked it for views from inside Iran, though it can be assumed that many Iranians could still access it via proxies. The backlash did not come from the regime alone, and an Instagram account called Poor Kids of Tehran was launched on Sunday, drawing a stark contrast between the lives of the moneyed elite and with the lives of a larger portion of Iran's population.
The account's administrator tweeted Monday that 99 percent of Iran’s riches go to 1 percent of the population, the people who use the hashtag #RichKidsofTehran, Vocativ reported. According to Vocativ, citing PBS, over half of Iran's urban population lives below the poverty line as of 2011. It's hard to imagine this figure is much changed since, considering the sanctions leveled against Iran by Western countries due to its nuclear program.