Iranian teen detained over Instagram dance videos

In the broadcast footage the woman identified as Maedeh Hojabri breaks down in tears before admitting that

Iranian women are being arrested for dancing on Instagram

Authorities in Iran arrested four girls and women last week for posting videos of themselves dancing on Instagram.

Before her account was blocked by Iranian authorities, Hojabri had posted around 300 videos on her Instagram account - in which she appeared without wearing the compulsory Islamic headscarf.

The video allegedly carried Hojrabi's face, blurred and in tears, choking on the following words, "It wasn't for attracting attention..."

She was arrested alongside other dancers and was forced to confess on state television. Before her account was suspended, she was reported to have more than 600,000 followers.

As the BBC notes, six Iranian girls were given sentences of a year in prison and 91 lashes after they were convicted in 2014 of positing videos of themselves dancing to the Pharrell Williams song "Happy".

Now only one woman has been publicly named, a 17-year-old gymnast named Maedeh Hojabri.

Maedeh Hojabri, an 18-year-old gymnast, was detained by police after she posted a video of her dancing to Western pop music in her bedroom. " I dance in a public park in Tehran to support Maedeh the 19-year-old girl who got arrested", wrote another supporter. In the Middle Eastern country it is illegal for women to dance or be seen without a hijab in public. I did not have any intention to encourage others doing the same ...

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The teenager was one of many detained by authorities for posting videos on Instagram that were seen to be in violation of the Islamic republic's strict social codes. I didn't work with a team, I received no training. Her videos have also appeared on various Instagram accounts dedicated to her, although they have not been verified.

"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", one social media user wrote according to the BBC. "I only do gymnastics".

View a collection of supportive social media posts below, including the top Instagram post from Maedeh Hojabri.

The police said the campaign was being pushed by Persian-language satellite TV networks based overseas, purportedly encouraging women participants to take their white headscarves off in protest of the country's strict Islamic modesty laws.

The secretary of the influential Guardian Council, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, has relayed Khamenei's stand in the past, having reportedly said in a joint session of the Assembly of Experts on 25 January that "cyberspace is a curse threatening our lives".

This is not the first time that young people in Iran have been caught in the war between religious hardliners and liberals demanding more social freedoms in the country. The state banned the popular Telegram messaging app in May 2018 and Facebook and Twitter in 2009.

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