Iranian women dance for justice after government detains teen for video

Howard TerryJul 10, 2018

This is not the first time Iranian authorities have cracked down on dancing.

"It wasn't for attracting attention", one of the arrested women said through tears in a broadcast on Friday, according to The Guardian.

Teenage dancer, Maedeh Hojabri, was arrested in Iran. I did not have any intention to encourage others doing the same I didn't work with a team, I received no training. In numerous videos, she did not wear a hijab, which is mandatory for women to wear in public in the country.

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 can not take away our happiness and hope by arresting teenagers and (girls like) Maedeh".

On social media, Hojabri's arrest received many supporters who went to share videos for them while dancing, using hashtags like #FreeMaedeh, #MaedehHojabri or #DancingIsNotACrime.

Crying, the distraught teenager explains that she posted videos of herself dancing on her Instagram account for her followers and was not directed by anyone.

No charges have been announced in Hojabri's case but the day her forced confession was aired, the head of Tehran's cyber-police Touraj Kazemi announced that people who post "indecent" material online would be pursued for committing crimes against national security.

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

Iranian media outlets reported that authorities were looking into banning more Instagram accounts or shutting down access to the site completely.

Social media users across the world have reacted strongly to the teenager's arrest, as dozens of tweets populated the hashtag under Hojbari's name.

Hojabri and others facing similar accusations previously appeared on Iranian state TV in a video in which the young gymnast - potentially speaking under duress - acknowledged producing the videos.

Dancing with the opposite sex in public in Iran is banned, unless they are immediate family members.

Numerous women took to social media with videos of themselves dancing, declaring "dancing is not a crime". The sentencing was later suspended.

Earlier this year, an official was arrested after footage emerged showing men and women dancing at a mall in the city, while six people were arrested for Zumba dancing in August last year.

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