Iranian Teen Arrested for Posting Videos of Herself Dancing on Instagram

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

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

Social media users shared videos and messages of support for the young dancer using a hashtag that translates to #dancing_isn't_a_crime while other women have staged public dance protests.

There has been widespread outcry over the arrest of Hojabri and the other detainees among Iranians in Iran and overseas, by artists, journalists, activists, politicians and thousands of ordinary citizens on social media.

After her arrest, an interview with Hojabri was aired on Iranian state TV where she admitted to knowing such videos were forbidden, according to the government-run Islamic Republic News Agency. She said, "It wasn't for attracting attention".

She was arrested alongside other dancers and was forced to confess on state television. The teen's Instagram account, which authorities took down following her arrest, reportedly had over 600,000 followers.

Dancing is considered a sin in Iran according to article 638 of the Islamic Penal Code: "Anyone in public places and roads who openly commits a harām [sinful] act, in addition to the punishment provided for the act, shall be sentenced to two months' imprisonment or up to 74 lashes; and if they commit an act that is not punishable but violates public prudency, they shall only be sentenced to ten days to two months' imprisonment or up to 74 lashes".

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

Authorities in Iran have arrested an 18-year-old girl for posting videos of herself dancing without wearing a hijab on social media. " I dance in a public park in Tehran to support Maedeh the 19-year-old girl who got arrested", wrote another supporter. It has played out in many ways for decades: Iranian musicians tapping into Western influences, for example, or Iranian women challenging authorities by pushing back their headscarves to nearly gravity-defying styles. I did not have any intention to encourage others doing the same ... "I did not work with a network", a crying Hojabri said. Her videos have also appeared on various Instagram accounts dedicated to her, although they have not been verified. "I only do gymnastics", the Guardian newspaper quoted her as saying in the clip broadcast on Iranian state TV.

"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", the BBC translated the tweet of one supporter.

View a collection of supportive social media posts below, including the top Instagram post from Maedeh Hojabri. Some Iranian news websites reported three other people had been arrested on similar charges in the past weeks.

The protest is not just restricted to Iran. Iranian officials said last week the judiciary was considering blocking access to Instagram.

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