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Iranians outraged over arrest of teenage for Instagram dancing clips

Maedeh Hojabri of Iran dances in a video uploaded to social media. She was detained by Iranian authorities over the videos Maedeh Hojabri of Iran dances in a video uploaded to social media. She was detained by Iranian authorities over the videos
Deanna Wagner | 11 July, 2018, 09:36

Iranian woman are not allowed to dance in front of men except for close family members.

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. In some of the videos, she appeared without the mandatory headscarf or hijab.

Some Iranian women took to social media to post videos of themselves dancing in support of Hojabri. "The person playing the instrument cut my performance short and left the scene because of the fear that his instruments would be confiscated if police saw a woman dancing". According to BBC's video description, this was just months after a group of young Iranians were arrested for dancing to Pharrell William's Happy. Sounding tearful and shaken at times, she said she did it because "some people liked me". Many of them have been performing dance forms like the Australian shuffle on the streets (video below).

"It wasn't incitement, I didn't want to encourage anyone, I didn't have an objective", she said.

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Hojabri has around 300 videos on her Instagram account, many of which show her dancing in both Iranian and Western styles. "I only do gymnastics". Such departures from their mores feed into the agenda of hardline politicians battling the more moderate President Hassan Rouhani to limit access to social media platforms, which they see as corrupting society's morals and endangering national security.

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".

The Iranian government has put several restrictions on the public role of women based on Islamic Sharia laws. According to the Associated Press, Iranian authorities are considering blocking access to Instagram, but no final decision has been made.