Iranian state television has aired an interview with an Instagrammer famous for drastically altering her appearance through plastic surgery to look like a zombie and arrested for alleged “blasphemy”. The social media celebrity known as Sahar Tabar was arrested on the orders of Tehran’s Islamic guidance court on October 5 after “numerous requests from the public” for her to be detained, the broadcaster said.


She faces charges including blasphemy, inciting violence, gaining income through inappropriate means and encouraging corruption among the young. “I do not look like these photoshopped pictures right now,” the 22-year-old told state television in the interview aired on Tuesday, her face blurred out. “This is close to what I look like these days,” Tabar said, holding a phone with a portrait of herself.


She resembles Hollywood star Angelina Jolie in the picture, but her face is gaunt, her nose sharply turned-up and cheeks sunken. Tabar denied reports she sought to look like Jolie, saying instead that she was inspired by a zombie-like character from the animated fantasy film “Corpse Bride”. Her Instagram account, which she said had 486,000 followers, no longer appears to be active.


The television channel noted that she was the only child of a divorced couple who had been living with her mother, and that she “could have been in university by now” if not because of her “strange” online persona and fame. “I saw people were following what I did and, when the likes grew, I felt I was doing the right thing,” said Tabar, admitting she had not finished high school. Voicing regret, Tabar said her mother had tried to stop her from changing her appearance, but the fame and Instagram likes made her go on. “My childhood dream was to be famous.”


The broadcaster said Tabar admitted that “vulgarity on social media gets a lot of clicks” and if she had not followed this path, she could have been “in a better place right now”. Amnesty International has repeatedly called on Iran to stop broadcasting videos of “confessions” by suspects, saying they “violate the defendants’ rights”. – AFP