Iranian Officials Arrested Teen After She Posted Videos Of Herself Dancing On Instagram

July 11, 2018 | No Comments » | Topics: Story

Maedeh Hojabri

Maedeh Hojabri is an 18-year-old Iranian who garnered a large social media following through Instagram. Videos of her dancing and lip-synching sans headscarf have garnered thousands of views. But when Iranian officials discovered Hojabri’s videos, they reportedly arrested her, according to Al Jazeera.

In Iran, women are not allowed to dance in front of men, unless they are close family members. They are also required to wear headscarves in public. Hojabri’s videos appear to have been recorded in private spaces, sparking conversations about what is considered public and private when technology is involved. Some of Hojabri’s videos also feature Western music, such as “Wild Thoughts” by DJ Khaled featuring Rihanna and Bryson Tiller or “Wherever, Whenever” by Shakira. Western music is banned from state radio and TV stations in Iran.

Iranian state TV aired a video in which she apologized for “breaking moral norms” but said any breach was not her intention. Some Iranian news websites reported three other people had been arrested on similar charges in the past weeks. The reports said they were released on bail.

“I had no bad intentions … I did not want to encourage others to do the same … I did not work with a network,” a crying Hojabri told TV on Friday.

Under Iran’s Islamic Sharia law, women are required to wear headscarves and modest clothing in public and are banned from dancing in public.

The potential charges against Hojabri were not specified, but she is likely to be accused of running afoul of Islamic codes of behavior that call for modesty in attire and behavior.

On social media, people in Iran and beyond criticized how Hojabri was treated. Using various hashtags, including #dancingisntacrime, supporters flooded Twitter and Instagram with reposts of Hojabri’s videos. Some shared their own clips of dancing at home or in the streets in support of the teen. Hojabri looks to be back on Instagram: She reposted one of her dance videos and shared a photo of a newspaper story about her.

Iran has persecuted dancers before, most memorably in 2014 when Iranians were arrested for dancing to Pharrell Williams’s hit, “Happy” and posting a video of it online. Their biggest offense? They danced in public.

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