1 hour, 9 minutes
Amir Maghsoudloo, known as Amir Tataloo, a pop singer, has a wide following on social media with young Iranians. His official Instagram page published several posts, in recent days, in which Tataloo was seen to be attempting to "groom" underage girls by invitisting them to join his personal “harem.” It was not the first time his page shared such messages – but on this occasion his Instagram account was shut down. The messages were also reported to British police, which led to a group of journalists, lawyers and human rights activists to publish reports of Tataloo’s alleged sexual harassment in mainstream and social media. The media campaign against Tataloo continues even as he has made statements on other online channels.
Tataloo, who is said to currently be in the United Kingdom, deleted his Instagram stories inviting children to have sex a few hours after they were published. But before that, screenshots of the posts were taken and sent to women's rights organizations, journalists, and Iranian and Turkish lawyers. A spokesperson for Facebook spokesperson, the parent company of Instagram, told reporters: "The safety of members is our top priority, and we do not tolerate content that abuses or endangers children. We have blocked Amir Tataloo's account for violating our policies, and he will no longer be allowed to appear on Instagram."
Tataloo's Instagram page was shut down just as a media campaign against his posts was launched by the Kandoo, a non-profit that provides digital security and privacy rights support to vulnerable community, and Article-19, which is active in freedom of expression issues and digital rights work.
"So far, more than 20 Instagram accounts have been blocked in this connection, and we will continue our efforts until we uproot this corruption and take it off all platforms of this network," said Nima Fatemi, founder of Kandoo, referring to the closure of Tataloo's Instagram page. "Until this network stops destroying society by spreading the culture of child rape, we will continue our work. In the case of Amir Tataloo and others like him, we are facing a catastrophe that is the normalization of child rape and misogyny in society. Taking the platform away from such people and such networks is definitely the first step."
Fatemi believes that the duty of all citizens is to prevent the spread of this illness, he “culture of child rape,” to prevent harm to children. "We must give sociologists and child and women's rights activists a chance to raise awareness and educate the public and help improve the society's health, Fatemi said. “Fortunately, there are strict rules against the spread of child abuse, and social networks are taking it seriously."
Fatemi, along with others active in the campaign against Tataloo specifically and child rape more generally, believes that addressing this issue is not limited to this one person. "The issue is beyond a specific person. [Tataloo] may be the only tip of an iceberg that results from not being adequately educated in Iran's closed society, at the cost of destroying the lives and souls of the most vulnerable people."
Azadeh Akbari, a human rights activist whose husband, Soroush Hichkas, a well-known Iranian singer and rapper, was one of the first to protest against Tataloo's Instagram posts, also played a key role in the follow-up to his Instagram account. Akbari reacted to Tataloo's stories on her pages on social networks such as Instagram and Twitter, describing Tataloo's actions as child abuse; in reply, Tataloo insulted Akbari, sexually harassing her in his choice of language.
According to research conducted in the UK, sexual harassment of children online is often most prevalent on Instagram. In an interview with IranWire, Akbari said: "We are facing child abuse, and I am constantly thinking of children who are being preyed upon by people like Tataloo. Our goal is to say that we should not be silent, and that by testifying in this regard, we can use legal and judicial tools to defend children's rights. In recent days, women from Iran called me to find a way to raise our voices and to protest."
Although due to the judicial and political structure of the Islamic Republic, complaints about child abuse and violence against women may not be registered and prosecuted, outside of Iran's borders, these issues can be pursued. Akbari said: "This is no longer Iran, where the legal and judicial structure does not help victims. According to international definitions of children's rights and online harassment, Tataloo's actions can be prosecuted and receive the right response. That's why I called the British police to report the actions of this person to the proper authorities."
Akbari reported Tataloo’s Instagram posts to British police: "Even the police asked what age it is considered legal to have sex in Iran. I said 9 years ols. The police officer was shocked and said, 'I should have not asked.' It may be hard for others to believe that children in Iran are being sexually abused at this age. But it was important for me to report this online harassment to the British police. I handed over Tataloo’s Instagram stories about the children to the police, and his full name and details are registered with the police as a sexual harasser."
Officials at the UK Home Office, the British interior ministry, are also pursuing the case.
Tataloo’s page on Instagram had more than four million viewers when it was closed. His Telegram page has more than a million followers and his live shows on YouTube typically attract around 10,000 viewers. He has posted videos on social media showing children under the legal age. Some women living in Iran, who had been harassed online, contacted the working group protesting against Tataloo, saying: "When we went to Iran’s cyber police, we were told that we would be blamed for having explicit photos on our social networks. So, we did not follow up."
In the messages received by this working group on social media, many introduced themselves as parents who are worried about their children. There are also a number of school teachers. And some, without revealing their identities, have called for more prosecution and legal action against Tataloo. But others have contacted the activists to insult and swear at them for their efforts.
Nevsin Mengu, an influential Turkish journalist, protested on Twitter against Tataloo's Instagram stories. A left-wing feminist group in Turkey also reacted against the posts. And a group of Turkish journalists announced their readiness to publish Tataloo's posts so that they could be be followed up by human rights organizations. Al-Hurra, an Arab media outlet, also published a report on the closure of Tataloo's Instagram account, calling his posts an invitation to child abuse.
Lawyers who have been following up on Tataloo's recent actions say the Turkish judiciary can take legal action against Tataloo's posts inviting children to join a “harem.” The lawyers include Iranians living in Turkey and Turkish lawyers. Additionally, lawyers outside Turkey and Iran have announced their readiness to cooperate on pursuing justice against Tatallo, and some have also offered financial support.
The lawyers say that Tataloo’s recent posts can be described as promoting paedophilia.
Following a call by members of the campaign against Tataloo to users who have been harassed by him and his supporters, reports have reached the activists from people who have claimed to have been harassed by Tataloo online in recent years. Others have agreed to work with the team of lawyers on alleged harassment that took place several years ago. And some users, have defended Tataloo's actions; others, who claimed to have photos of the women working on the campaign against Tataloo, said they supported Tataloo of their own free will and would continue to do so.
According to members of the campaign, actions against Amir Tataloo are still ongoing, both in terms of legal action and the ongoing efforts to expel him from social media. The activists believe that companies that work with Tataloo, such as music companies, should take actions to protect children's rights by breaking their connections with the singer. The activists have also invited human rights organizations and children's rights activists to join their campaign to take legal action, not only for the case of Amir Hossein Maghsoudlou, but also against anyone who attacks or harasses children on social media.
Translations of Tataloo’s Instagram post, followed by posts from his supporters in which they threaten Tataloo’s critics, appear below. Warning: the language is offensive and disturbing and concerns violence against children and adults.
"If you find me a vegetarian, sporty, shy, seventeen-year-old, fresh-faced [girl] I will come back to Instagram and shine with my attractive and energetic face… No restrictions on age!”
"Promise to God, we will find you and F*** you all together and cut you with a knife and throw the pieces to the dogs… There are 50 of us in different countries and we will find whores like you… We have your photos… If you have a child we will put fire to them in front of your eyes… to make you regret… if Tataloo's page is not back in a few days… we will make everyone mourn for you…"
"We will put fire to this kid… wait and see… I will make your life go dark… Then you would regret closing down Tataloo's page… If the page is not back in a few days, you are finished…"
"And this is your sister’s photo… so goodbye for a few days… will see you face to face… if I don't see you I will find other members of your family… you have a few days to put the page back online.”
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