Iran: Teen detained over dance videos

24 July 2018
An Iranian teenager was detained after she posted videos on social media of herself dancing.
Photo: Maedeh Hojabri / Instagram


An Iranian teenager was detained after she posted videos on social media of herself dancing, Associated Press reported on 8 July 2018.

In a state-run TV program that aired on 6 July, 18-year-old Maedeh Hojabri acknowledged posting inappropriate content for her tens of thousands of Instagram followers.

Some of Hojabri’s videos show her dancing to western pop music, without wearing a headscarf, in what appears to be a bedroom.

“It wasn’t for attracting attention,” she said, according to The Guardian. “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 Centre for Human Rights in Iran said the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting has a history of broadcasting forced confessions.

Three other teenage social media personalities were also allegedly briefly detained and appeared in the TV program.

Under Iranian law, violating public prudence can result in a two-month jail sentence, according to the Iran Human Rights Documentation Centre. The same goes for women who appear in public without a hijab.

Hojabri’s arrest sparked worldwide outcry. In protest, Iranian women took to social media to post their own dance videos with the hashtag #DancingIsNotACrime.

In 2014, six Iranians who shared a video of themselves dancing around Tehran to Pharrell Williams’ song Happy each received a suspended sentence of six months to one year in prison and 91 lashes.

Last August six Zumba dancers were arrested for allegedly trying to “change lifestyles and promote a lack of hijab” in their instructional videos, BBC reported.

Read more about Iranian authorities silencing artists through detention and imprisonments under the guise of religion and state reputation in Freemuse’s State of Artistic Freedom 2018 report.

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