Iranian women are dancing to protest the arrest of a teenage Instagrammer – Hack
Iranian women are posting videos of themselves dancing to protest the arrest of a teenager who filmed herself busting out to Justin Bieber in her bedroom.
Maedeh Hojabri, an 18-year-old gymnast, had tens of thousands of Instagram followers and appeared in the videos without the compulsory Islamic headscarf, or hijab, dancing to Iranian songs as well as Western hits like Bieber’s Let Me Love You and Era Istrefi’s Bonbon.
Dancing with the opposite sex in public in Iran is banned, unless they are immediate family members.
On Friday, a woman identified as Maedeh reportedly appeared in a state TV video broadcast and admitted to breaking moral norms, in what activists say was a forced appearance.
“It wasn’t for attracting attention,” the woman said in the broadcast, visibly shaken and crying.
“I had some followers and these videos were for them. I did not have any intention to encourage others doing the same.”
“I didn’t work with a team, I received no training. I only do gymnastics.”
Iranian police have also arrested other popular Instagram users as part of what appears to be a broader crackdown against the social media platform. Unlike Twitter and Facebook, Instagram in Iran is currently not filtered. Authorities are reportedly considering blocking access to the site.
After the Friday broadcast, Iranian woman have showed their support for the teenager by posting their own dance videos to hashtags that translate as #dance_to_freedom and #dancing_isn’t_a_crime.
In an Instagram post, activist Hossein Ronaghi commented: “If you told people anywhere in the world that 17 and 18-year-old girls are arrested for their dance, happiness and beauty on charges of spreading indecency, while child rapists and others are free, they would laugh! Because for them, it’s unbelievable!”
This is not the first time Iranian authorities have cracked down on dancing.
Earlier this year, an official was arrested after footage emerged showing men and women dancing at a mall in the city, while six people were arrested for Zumba dancing in August last year.
In 2014, six young Iranians were given suspended sentences of up to one year in prison and 91 lashes after posting a video of themselves dancing to Pharrell Williams’ Happy on the streets and rooftops of Tehran.