Iranians Outraged Over Arrest of Teenager for Instagram Dancing Clips

Maedeh Hojabri an Iranian teen who was detained in May 2018 for posting dance videos on her Instagram account

Iranian women are posting videos of themselves dancing to Instagram to protest the country's strict Islamic modesty laws after a teenage girl was arrested for posting dance videos to the photo and video sharing platform.

Numerous protesters and supporters of Hojabri are Iranian women, who've also been posting videos of themselves dancing in public.

Islamic sharia law in Iran has strict requirements for women in public: they are required to wear headscarves and dancing is banned. Sounding tearful and shaken at times, she said she did it because "some people liked me". She, alongside the others arrested, was seen crying on state television on Friday in what activists fear were forced confessions. Her account has since been suspended.

A supporter uploaded video of people dancing on the streets of London as she wrote, "We hit the #London pavement today, dancing in solidarity with #MaedehHojabri who has been sentenced to prison for dancing".

Now only one woman has been publicly named, a 17-year-old gymnast named Maedeh Hojabri.

Eighteen-year-old Maedeh Hojabri was arrested recently for posting videos of her dancing on Instagram. " I dance in a public park in Tehran to support Maedeh the 19-year-old girl who got arrested", wrote another supporter.

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Dancing in public is forbidden for women in Iran, as is making public appearances without a hijab covering your hair.

"I had some followers and these videos were for them". Meanwhile in Iran, the cyber-police are continuing to take action against accounts similar to Hojabri's, censoring any unwanted content. The social media site is one of the only Western social media outlets allowed - Facebook and Twitter are blocked. "I did not work with a network", Hojabri said in tears.

"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", one social media user wrote according to the BBC. "I only do gymnastics", the Guardian newspaper quoted her as saying in the clip broadcast on Iranian state TV.

According to media reports, the video was of Hojabri admitting to breaking social norms and clarifying that "it wasn't for attracting attention" and that she did not have "any intention to encourage others doing the same".

The police said the campaign was being pushed by Persian-language satellite TV networks based overseas, purportedly encouraging women participants to take their white headscarves off in protest of the country's strict Islamic modesty laws. Iranian authorities are also now surveilling "Instagram celebrities" who may be facing arrest, according to the New York Times.

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