#BBCtrending: Fernanda Lima and the dress that shocked Iran

  • 10 December 2013
Fernanda Lima at the World Cup draw as Iran is drawn

A dress worn by Brazilian model and actress Fernanda Lima at the World Cup draw has led to her being singled out by Iranians on social media. Some in Iran said she should cover up - even "wear a hijab" - but many others have rallied to defend her.

As we have reported before on this blog, Iranians love football. But those watching the live World Cup draw on state TV in Iran had a very disrupted view - with every shot of Fernanda Lima cut out. "To be honest with you, the dress of the lady who presents the show does not meet our broadcasting guidelines at all," explained Adel Ferdosipour, the host of the programme. It is standard practice for state media in Iran to censor, blur - or even digitally alter the clothing of women to make it more acceptable.

But Iranians weren't happy. Cartoons were shared on Twitter and Facebook urging Lima to wear a hijab. And many posted complaints about her choice of clothing to her Facebook page. "Would it kill you if you could wear a decent dress so we could watch the draw as well?" wrote one. Many of the comments were deliberately offensive and Fernanda Lima's Facebook page now seems to have been taken down. Outside Iran, Fernanda Lima was trending on Twitter for the exact opposite reason, with more than 70,000 tweets about her - many of them very complimentary about her appearance.

This cartoon jokes: "Take this and wear a hijab so we can watch the World Cup draw". It was widely shared on social media - but so were supportive messages

Fernanda Lima was not the only one to face the ire of Iranians - Argentina's star footballer Lionel Messi's Facebook page was also hit with abuse, after a fake tweet purporting to be from his account appeared to mock the Iranian football team.

But Iranians were also quick to apologise to both Messi and Lima on social media - within hours of the draw, a Facebook page called "Iranians Apologize to Fernanda Lima & Leo Messi" was set up. It now has more 28,000 likes and hundreds of comments. "We are so, so sorry for the offensive comments," writes one. "I apologise to you on behalf of all Iranians," writes another.

Reporting by Cordelia Hebblethwaite

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