Iranian teen arrested for dancing videos

Elias Hubbard
July 12, 2018

The only woman whose identity has been released to the press so far is Maedeh Hojabri, a 17-year-old gymnast who reportedly had 600,000 followers for her dancing and gymnast posts.

Iran has seen a major crackdown on Instagram influencers as authorities have reportedly arrested at least four women in the past week for posting videos onto the app.

"In April, the judiciary arrested a senior Iranian official after a video posted online that showed young boys and girls dancing in public in the northeastern holy Shi'ite city of Mashhad for undermining public decency".

The Iranian government is continuing to enforce strict censorship of social media, this time by cracking down on women dancing on Instagram by issuing arrests and publicly shaming the women on state television.

Iranian media outlets reported that authorities were looking into banning more Instagram accounts or shutting down access to the site completely. She, however, insisted that this was not her intention, noting that she was only trying to gain more followers, Reuters reports.

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

Soon after Hojabri's reported detention, Iranian state TV Saturday showed a young woman, with her face blurred, crying and explaining her reasons for posting the video. As in Hojabri's case, Iranian TV did not show the faces of the individuals making the confessions.

Reihane Taravati, a Tehran-based fashion photographer, who was a member of the group detained in 2014, spoke out against this pattern of injustice. She was arrested two months ago. Now you arrest #MaedehHojabri and she is only 18!

In response to the arrest, some women took to social media to post videos of themselves dancing, in support of Hojabri, using the Iranian version of the hashtag #dancing_isn't_a_crime. "If you want to enjoy your true self, you have to brake (sic) the laws every day", tweeted Iranian activist and TV journalist Masih Alinejad. Her videos have also appeared on various Instagram accounts dedicated to her, although they have not been verified.

"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", said one supporter in a tweet translated by BBC.

"The government's intolerance and disrespect of Iranians' choice of lifestyle is indicative of a lack of freedom in the country that has reached a new low in the past few months with the attack on social media personalities", said Ghaemi. Iranian officials said last week the judiciary was considering blocking access to Instagram. "Let people be. Let's not infringe on their privacy, people's private lives belong to them", he told a crowd at a 2018 celebration of the country's Islamic revolution. Earlier in January this year, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met with "cyberspace experts" to discuss challenges that the internet poses to the country's leadership.

"I have already said that it is impossible to totally block the internet, but we can slow it down", he added.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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