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In Iran, Women Are Dancing to Protest the Arrest of a Teenage Instagrammer

Iranian women are dancing in public and posting videos of themselves online to protest the arrest of the teenage Instagram star.

Zoya Mateen | News18.com

Updated:July 9, 2018, 1:12 PM IST
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In Iran, Women Are Dancing to Protest the Arrest of a Teenage Instagrammer
Iranian teenager has been arrested for posting her dancing videos on Instagram. Source: Instagram
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In 2014, a group of Tehran fans of the iconic pop star Pharrell Williams were arrested for filming themselves dancing to the song 'Happy'.

They were sentenced to up to one year in prison and subjected to 91 lashes.

Four years later, nothing has changed. A young woman from Tehran who had become a dancing sensation on Instagram where she posted her dance videos has been arrested.

Maedeh Hojabri had posted around 300 videos on her account, many of which showed her dancing in both Iranian and Western styles. She also appeared in videos without wearing the obligatory Islamic headscarf. Her performances had thousands of followers on various accounts with her name on them, ranging from 12,000 to 66,000 followers.

According to activists, Hojabri, who appears to be in her late teenage years, was one of a number of users of Instagram accounts who have been arrested. The identities of the other detainees have not been confirmed.

Hojabri has since appeared on a state television program with other detainees, in which she and others had to make 'forced confessions'. A commonly used tactic of Iranian authorities that has been used in the past for similar cases, Hojabri and other detainees are made to confess their 'crime' in front of a camera in the presence of cops and other authorities who question them on morality. State TV showed a young woman, her face blurred, crying and shaking while describing her motivation for producing the videos. “It wasn’t for attracting attention,” she said. “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.”

All the videos seem to have been shot in Hojabri's bedroom while she danced to western pop and rap music. In another video, she talked about the history of parkour, an outdoor sport popular in Iran, especially among women who practice it while wearing the headscarf. 





Since her arrest, her dance videos have been shared by hundreds of people, giving her a reach beyond her account. On Twitter, people have profusely expressed their solidarity with Hojabri.



















And now, Iranian women are dancing in public and posting videos of themselves online to protest the arrest of the teenage Instagram star.

With hashtags that translate as #dance to freedom and #dancing_isn’t_a_crime, Iranian women, many also without the mandatory hijab, have started posting their own videos in support of Hojabri.







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!"
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