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Rich Kids Of Tehran Instagram Account Shows A Very Different Side Of Iran

08/10/2014 10:32 BST | Updated 08/10/2014 10:59 BST

A controversial Instagram account purporting to show the affluent lifestyles of young men and women in Iran's capital has emerged.

Rich Kids Of Tehran apparently features shots of the city’s elite showing off their luxury sports cars, watches and jewellery.

The account – likely to have been inspired by the similarly vulgar Rich Kids of Instagram – is raising eyebrows for several reasons.

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Tabestoon Kootae 😆👌🍸☀️ #RichKidsOfTehran #Luxury #Tehran #Lifestyle #Iran #Pool #Summer #Persian #Model Ax Az: @amandatg1

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Women in Iran must wear a hijab which under Islamic law has been compulsory since the 1979 Revolution. Not wearing the head covering is punishable by fines, imprisonment or lashes.

Some women appear in these images without the hijab and in some cases they are wearing bikinis – though they appear to have been photographed in private homes and gardens where such rules cannot be enforced.

Alcohol, which is strictly banned in the country, also appears to feature in some of the pictures.

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This is Tehran City. ❤️ Which one would you choose? 😁 #RichKidsOfTehran #Tehran #Iran #Mercedes #Porsche #Persian #Luxury #Lifestyle #Lavish #Elite #Supercars

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Mystery surrounds the identity of the operator(s) of the account, whom agreed to speak to HuffPost UK, but refused to reveal their names or even confirm if they were based in Iran.

He/she told us via email: “We wanted to show the world what they don’t see on newspapers and TV. We love all Iranians, rich and poor.

“All people are equal, our object is to show the world the good side of Iran and Tehran, which we think everybody should see before they judge us.

Rich Kids Of Instagram

“We are in no way political and we are just showing how beautiful Tehran and people from Tehran are.

“Especially with all the bad press in the Middle East currently we want the world to see Tehran is nothing like that.”

However a posting on Tuesday revealed some of the people featured in the account - which has ammassed more than 61,000 followers since 13 September, do not live in Iran.

And as the BBC notes: “It may well be that the pictures have been lifted from private accounts and posted against the will of those who took them.”

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Faghat be ehterame onayi ke hatta maniye luxury va lavish o in chiza ro nemidonan va ba jooneshon noon dar miyaran 👍👍👍👍👏👏👏 #PoorKidsOfTehran #Tehran #Iran #Persian #Savings #Lifestyle #PoorKidsOfTehran Ax az : ......😔

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The account has inspired counter social media pages, including one called Poor Kids of Tehran

Although the Iranian government generally refuses to provide poverty statistics, according to PBS, government researchers said in 2011 that about half of Iran's urban population lives below the poverty line.

The account came to light during a recent social media crackdown by the government. Despite this, repercussions are unlikely to be faced by those featured in the images.

Sara, a young IT consultant in Tehran told The Times: “Everyone knows these guys. Most of them have fathers who are untouchable.

“If they get in trouble it will disappear. Others are not so lucky.”

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Last month a group of young Iranians arrested for creating a tribute to Pharrell Williams’ Happy video were sentenced.

The three men and (unveiled) women filmed themselves dancing to the number one hit in various Tehran locations in May.

They were arrested on charges of hurting “public chastity” and later appeared to “confess to their criminal acts” on Iranian state TV.

Each member of the group was sentenced to six months in prison and 91 lashes.

Rich Kids Of Instagram