Iranian women are being arrested for dancing on Instagram
12 July, 2018, 14:27
In response to Hojabri's arrest, Iranians began posting videos of themselves dancing on social media.
Hojabri wasn't alone in her arrest - several other Iranians faced similar arrests for their Instagram content. Instagram remains one of the few platforms untouched by government regulation in Iran; immediately following these arrests, however, there is speculation that the government will ban Instagram, or filter the content as it does on Facebook and Twitter. The 19-year-old girl appeared in the videos without donning the obligatory Islamic headscarf.
The video allegedly carried Hojrabi's face, blurred and in tears, choking on the following words, "It wasn't for attracting attention..."
Iranian Instagram celebrity and dancer Maedeh Hojabri would have been just another teenager in most parts of the world: operating multiple social media accounts and uploading videos of herself dancing. Only one of the girls, 17-year-old gymnast Maedeh Hojabri, has been identified.
Maedeh Hojabri was arrested and forced to confess on state television for videos she posted of herself dancing in her bedroom.
Dancing in public is forbidden for women in Iran, as is making public appearances without a hijab covering your hair. I did not want to encourage others to do the same ...
"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.
According to the Associated Press, Iranian authorities are considering blocking access to Instagram, but no final decision has been made.
Social norms, the unwritten rules about how to behave and what to wear in society, evolve and as more people follow them, they get hardened.
Hojabri and an unknown number of other social media users were arrested at an unknown date.
A blogger, Hossein Ronaghi, told The Guardian, "People would laugh at you if you tell anyone in the world that [in Iran] they arrest 17-year-olds and 18-year-olds for dancing, being happy and being handsome, for spreading indecency, and instead paedophiles are free".
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".
"Free them up", wrote another man dancing at work in tall plastic boots, "Let people live with this little bit of happiness". And while authorities sometimes turn a blind eye on some violations of the country's strict laws on female clothing or Western music, Iran still regularly punishes violations to set examples.
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