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Iranian women dance in public to protest the arrest of a teen Instagram star

iStock/Thinkstock
iStock/Thinkstock

(TEHRAN) — Women across Iran have rallied in support of a teenage girl who was arrested after posting videos of herself dancing without the required headscarf and dress code.

Many have taken videos of themselves dancing in public spaces, which is forbidden under Iranian law, and posted them online.

Gymnast Maedeh Hojabri, 18, gained a large social media following for her dance videos set to Western and Iranian pop and rap music. In the Instagram posts, she twirled and bopped in her bedroom without adhering to the strict dress code that requires women to cover their hair and bodies in public.

Hojabri, who had more than 60,000 followers on Instagram, appeared on state television Friday and confessed to breaking moral norms, an appearance that activist believe was a forced. Several others were reportedly detained on similar charges.

“It wasn’t for attracting attention,” she said in the television speech. “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.”

The move led to outrage on social networks, where women shared their own videos and messages of support for Hojabri using the hashtag #dancing_isn’t_a_crime.

Iranian blogger Hossein Ronaghi commented on Instagram.

“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!” the comment read.

In 2014, Iran arrested three men women and three men for dancing in a YT video to Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy.”

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