Women dance in support of Iranian teen arrested over Instagram video

Evarado Alatorre
Julio 12, 2018

The teen's Instagram account, which authorities took down following her arrest, reportedly had over 600,000 followers.

Hojabri's videos, one of which has close to one million views, show her dancing in her room to Iranian and Western music. In some of the videos, she appeared without the mandatory headscarf or hijab. 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.

Women in Iran are defying authorities and posting videos on Instagram in violation of the strict social codes.

The video allegedly carried Hojrabi's face, blurred and in tears, choking on the following words, "It wasn't for attracting attention..." I did not want to encourage others to do the same ...

Hojabri's apparently coerced TV appearance unleashed online reaction at home and overseas.

It should be noted that the Iranian government has strict rules governing women's clothing and dancing with members of the opposite sex in public is banned. "What disintegrates religion and faith and destroys a regime isn't a teenager's hip-shaking".

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One man filmed his eyebrows dancing.

"In response to reports of Hojabri's arrest, Iranians began posting videos online of themselves dancing in public under the hashtags #dancing_isn't_a_crime" and "#dance_to_freedom".

The police said the campaign was being pushed by Persian-language satellite TV networks based overseas, purportedly encouraging women participants to take their white headscarves off in protest of the country's strict Islamic modesty laws.

Social media users have come in support of the young Iranian teenage dancer, Maedeh Hojabri, who got arrested for uploading dancing videos on Instagram. "I did not work with a network", a crying Hojabri told TV on Friday.

"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. Iranian officials said last week the judiciary was considering blocking access to Instagram.

In February police arrested a woman, Shapark Shajarizadeh, for removing her Islamic head-covering during a public protest. 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", the Guardian newspaper quoted her as saying in the clip broadcast on Iranian state TV. Some Iranian news websites reported three other people had been arrested on similar charges in the past weeks. The popular messaging app was shut down earlier this year. "Naturally we must block it".

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