Iran detains teenage girl for posting dance videos on Instagram

Elias Hubbard
July 10, 2018

Hojabri was one of a number of popular Instagram users arrested recently in Iran over the content of their videos; activists fear the country will ban the social media site, now one of the few western apps that hasn't been blocked.

Iranian police have also arrested other popular Instagram users as part of what appears to be a broader crackdown against the social media platform.

The teenage gymnast reassured authorities that it was not her intention to do so.

On Friday, Maedeh Hojabri confessed to "breaking moral norms" during a state TV video broadcast, according to The Independent, which activists are calling a forced appearance.

Under Iran's Islamic Sharia law, women are required to wear headscarves and modest clothing in public and are banned from dancing in public.

She claims she was trying only trying to gain followers.

Hojabri, who had hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers at the time of her arrest, said in her confession that she made the videos for her followers, not to get attention or encourage similar behavior, according to a translation by the Guardian.

Iranian media outlets reported that authorities were looking into banning more Instagram accounts or shutting down access to the site completely.

The news caused outrage across social media, notably among numerous Iranian diaspora.

However, millions of Iranians continue to use these sites through proxies and VPNs.

In 2014, Iranian authorities sentenced six young men and women to suspended prison terms after they appeared in a video dancing to Pharrell Williams' song "Happy".

BBC reported 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".

"If you tell 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 will laugh!"

Many of them have been performing dance forms like the Australian shuffle on the streets (video below).

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".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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