Iranians protest teen arrest over dance videos

Maedeh Hojabri an Iranian teen who was detained in May 2018 for posting dance videos on her Instagram account

Iranian Instagram celebrity and dancer Maedeh Hojabri would have been just another teenager in most parts of the world: operating multiple social media accounts and uploading videos of herself dancing.

But before her detention, Hojabri, who is in her late teens, reportedly posted dozens of clips of herself dancing to Iranian pop music and Western tunes like DJ Snake's "Let me love you" and Sia's "Cheap Thrills".

Hojabri and others facing similar accusations previously appeared on Iranian state TV in a video in which the young gymnast - potentially speaking under duress - acknowledged producing the videos. Such departures from their mores feed into the agenda of hardline politicians battling the more moderate President Hassan Rouhani to limit access to social media platforms, which they see as corrupting society's morals and endangering national security. "#MaedehHojabri's crime was she uploaded her dance videos on Instagram". Her performances attracted thousands of followers. I did not have any intention to encourage others doing the same...

Hojabri's apparently coerced TV appearance unleashed online reaction at home and overseas. They are also banned from dancing in public under the Islamic Sharia law. "What disintegrates religion and faith and destroys a regime isn't a teenager's hip-shaking".

The New York Times reports an obscured video of Hojabri appeared on a state television show called "Wrong Path", in which she sobbed as she said dancing is a crime in Iran and that her family was unaware that she was posting videos to social media.

One man filmed his eyebrows dancing.


"In April, the judiciary arrested a senior Iranian official after a video posted online that showed young boys and girls dancing in public in the northeastern holy Shi'ite city of Mashhad for undermining public decency".

In response to the arrest, some women took to social media to post videos of themselves dancing, in support of Hojabri, using the Iranian version of the hashtag #dancing_isn't_a_crime.

"I'm dancing so that they [the authorities] see and know that they can not take away our happiness and hope by arresting teenagers and [girls like] Maedeh", one social media user wrote according to the BBC. I didn't work with a team, I received no training. The Times reports authorities have said they may soon ban Instagram, and announced that 51,000 Instagram pages are under surveillance for vulgar and inappropriate videos. "I only do gymnastics".

Zahra Rahnavard, the opposition Green Movement leader who has been under house arrest in Iran without charge for over seven years was quoted by the Kaleme website as saying, "The head of the IRIB should apologize to the shared conscience of the people of Iran".

"I have already said that it is impossible to totally block the internet, but we can slow it down", he added.

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