Iranian teen arrested for dancing on Instagram

A teen in Iran was arrested for dancing to Western songs — including a Justin Bieber tune and a rap number — in videos on social media, according to reports.

Maedeh Hojabri, an 18-year-old gymnast, posted clips on Instagram that showed her swaying in her bedroom in various outfits, The Guardian reported.

Hojabri had posted about 300 videos to her nearly 600,000 followers, many that showed her dancing, sometimes in midriff-baring tops and tight jeans, without a hijab, which is required in public.

But on Friday, state TV broadcast a video of the teen, crying and shaking, with her face blurred as she appeared to confess to breaking moral norms — while insisting that she was just trying to gain more followers.

The Iranian government has strict rules on women’s clothing, and dancing with members of the opposite sex in public is banned, according to the BBC.

“It wasn’t for attracting attention,” Hojabri said in the broadcast. “I had some followers and these videos were for them. I did not have any intention to encourage others doing the same … I didn’t work with a team, I received no training. I only do gymnastics.”

A local news website reported that Hojabri and three other people were detained on similar charges and released on bail in recent weeks.

While little is known about the teen, her videos have been shared by hundreds of people since her arrest — with activists posting using the hashtag #dancing_isn’t_a_crime.

One Twitter user, who posted a video of herself dancing with her back turned to the camera, wrote: “I’m dancing so that they [the authorities] see and know that they cannot take away our happiness and hope by arresting teenagers and (girls like) Maedeh.”

میرقصم تا ببیند و بدانند با گرفتن نوجوان‌ها و مائده ها نمی‌توانند شادی و امید را از ما بگیرند و ما امید به دیدن ایرانی آزاد،شاد و با آینده روشن داریم.#مائده_هژبری #برقص_تا_برقصیم #westandtogether#westandwithpahlavi
ریتوییت لطفا تا همه ببینند🙏 pic.twitter.com/oGsWPSETGL

— داش مَموشی (@dashmamush2014) July 8, 2018

Another person, Masih Alinejad, posted a video of herself defiantly dancing in a public park in Tehran.

Blogger Hossein Ronaghi commented: “If you tell people anywhere in the world that 17 and 18-year-old girls are arrested for their dance, happiness and beauty on charges of spreading indecency, while child rapists and others are free, they will laugh! Because for them, it’s unbelievable!”

This isn’t the first time people have been arrested for dancing.

Earlier this year, a city official in Mashhad was arrested after footage emerged of men and women dancing at a mall in the city.

Six people were arrested in August over videos of themselves Zumba dancing were posted on social media. They were later charged with seeking to “change lifestyles and promote lack of hijab.”

In 2014, six young Iranians were sentenced to a year in prison and 91 lashes for doing a jig to Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy” on the streets and rooftops of Tehran.

The head of Tehran’s cyber-police force, Touraj Kazemi, said he planned on continuing to track down popular Instagram accounts breaking morality laws.

Many people think authorities will end up banning the photo- and video-sharing app. Facebook and Twitter are already filtered in the country.

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