Iranian teenager is arrested for posting videos of herself dancing on Instagram

Elias Hubbard
July 9, 2018

Maedeh Hojabri had gathered thousands of followers on Instagram with videos of herself dancing to Iranian and Western pop music.

A state television network aired a video on Friday in which Maedeh Hojabri, the 18 year-old gymnast, acknowledged that she was breaking moral norms, but insisted that it was not her intention. It was unclear, however, whether the statement was made under duress.

She said that she was only trying gain more followers.

According to Masih Alinejad, an Iranian activist, Hojabri was later released on bail.

"It wasn't for attracting attention", she said.

One Twitter user wrote: "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". 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".

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.

Captioning the video, he writes: 'If you tell people anywhere in the world that girls aged 17 and 18 are arrested due to their beauty, the joy of dance and accused of the crime of prostitution, and predators of children are free, they will laugh!

The head of Tehran's cyber-police, Touraj Kazemi, said his forces were identifying and would take action against popular accounts on Instagram.

Iran has already blocked access to many social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the Telegram messaging app. Millions of Iranians continue to use the sites through proxies and VPNs.

The latest arrests came amid a series of protests against the government's handling of the economy.

In 2014, a group of Pharrell Williams fans arrested for filming themselves dancing to the song Happy on the rooftops of Tehran received suspended sentences of imprisonment and lashes.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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