Teen Arrested in Iran Over Instagram Dancing Videos

Teen Arrested in Iran Over Instagram Dancing Videos

July 9, 2018-Forcing a teenage girl to confess on state TV for the "crime" of posting a video of herself dancing on Instagram represents a blatant violation of freedom of expression and demonstrates the extent to which the authorities are brutally imposing their cultural dictates on the people of Iran. She was among the many Instagram users arrested by authorities for posting videos on the social media platform in recent weeks.

The arrests at the time highlighted the divides in the country's leadership.

Maedeh Hojabri gained a large social media following for her dancing videos. She also appeared in videos without wearing the obligatory Islamic headscarf.

But Hojabri's videos are now suddenly at the center of the latest conflict between religious hard-liners and Iranian liberals seeking more liberties.

She claims she was trying only trying to gain followers.

"It wasn't for attracting attention", one of the arrested women said through tears in a broadcast on Friday, according to The Guardian.

On social media, Hojabri's arrest received many supporters who went to share videos for them while dancing, using hashtags like #FreeMaedeh, #MaedehHojabri or #DancingIsNotACrime. "I did not have any intention to encourage others doing the same".

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"I didn't work with a team, I received no training. I only do gymnastics".

No charges have been announced in Hojabri's case but the day her forced confession was aired, the head of Tehran's cyber-police Touraj Kazemi announced that people who post "indecent" material online would be pursued for committing crimes against national security.

Several people on social media have spoken up in support of Hojabri, and against the overall situation in Iran.

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

"For centuries people have uncovered themselves and danced and this religion wasn't harmed", Iranian cleric Mohammad-Reza Zaeri wrote on his Instagram page.

Hojabri had uploaded around 300 videos to her account, in which she can be seen dancing in both Iranian and Western styles, without the compulsory hijab.

In April, an official of the Islamic guidance department was arrested after a video showing a group of young men and women clapping and dancing during a concert at a shopping mall in Masshad.

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