Iranians protest teen arrest over dance videos

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

In response to Hojabri's arrest, Iranians began posting videos of themselves dancing on social media.

The Washington Post reported several Iranians have also been arrested for teaching Zumba, a Colombian fitness routine, and in 2014 a group of at least six Iranians was arrested for making a version of the Pharrell Williams song "Happy", in which they were dancing on rooftops in Tehran. She also appeared in videos without wearing the obligatory Islamic headscarf. Sounding tearful and shaken at times, she said she did it because "some people liked me".

Iran's state television on Friday telecasted a video of Hojabri and other arrested persons confessing to breaking moral norms. Hojabri's arrest led to an outcry of support from ordinary Iranians and other social media users, who posted videos of themselves dancing online, backing her.

Hojabri has posted around 300 videos so far on her account, many of which display her dancing to both Iranian and Western music.

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

These women are taking their moves to the streets and social media in solidarity with 18-year-old Maedeh Hojabri, who was recently arrested in Iran for posting a video of her dancing in her bedroom. " I dance in a public park in Tehran to support Maedeh the 19-year-old girl who got arrested", wrote another supporter.

The Iranian State TV showed a young woman whose face was blurred and she was crying.

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Iran has already blocked access to many social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and the Telegram messaging app. Millions of Iranians continue to use the sites through proxies and VPNs. I did not have any intention to encourage others doing the same...

The police have stated that they have plans to shut down similar accounts on Instagram, and the judiciary is now formulating regulations that may severely limit, or completely block the website altogether. I didn't work with a team, I received no training.

"I had some followers and these videos were for them. I only do gymnastics".

This is not the first such arrest in Iran.

"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.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman lashed out at European countries for criticizing Israel while ignoring Iran's repression of Instagram celebrity and dancer Maedeh Hojabri. 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.

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