Iranian teen arrested for dancing videos

Iranian women have been arrested for dancing on Instagram

Iranian state TV aired a video in which Maedeh Hojabri apologized for "breaking moral norms".

The only woman whose identity has been released to the press so far is Maedeh Hojabri, a 17-year-old gymnast who reportedly had 600,000 followers for her dancing and gymnast posts.

Iranians on social media mocked clerical rulers on Monday after the hardline judiciary arrested a teenage girl for posting on Instagram videos of herself dancing in her room.

"In April, the judiciary arrested a senior Iranian official after a video posted online that showed young boys and girls dancing in public in the northeastern holy Shi'ite city of Mashhad for undermining public decency". Her account appears to be back up as of last night.

"Art is the language of the soul, highest of the hopes, not a crime", another posted alongside her own dancing clip.

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

Logically, most people reportedly suspect her "confession" on Friday was made under pressure from Iranian authorities.

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.

In 2014, authorities sentenced six men and women to suspended six-month prison sentences and 91 lashings for a video in which they could be seen dancing to Pharrell Williams" song "Happy' on the rooftops of Tehran. Earlier, the detainees had stated that they were unaware of the production and had been tricked into participating. As in Hojabri's case, Iranian TV did not show the faces of the individuals making the confessions.

In February police arrested a woman, Shapark Shajarizadeh, for removing her Islamic head-covering during a public protest. She received a 20-year sentence Sunday.

"You arrested me for being #Happy when I was 23. What will you do to the next generation?" she wrote on Twitter. 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.

"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.

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.

In retaliation to these social media activities, the Iranian authorities have found a new enemy of the state - the internet.

The police have stated that they have plans to shut down similar accounts on Instagram, and the judiciary is now formulating regulations that may severely limit, or completely block the website altogether. The state banned the popular Telegram messaging app in May 2018 and Facebook and Twitter in 2009. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has often described websites as something akin to a Trojan Horse of Western culture and values. "It wants to control the clothing they wear, the music they listen to, the books they read, the movies they watch, and the way they live their lives", said CHRI's Executive Director Hadi Ghaemi. "Naturally we must block it".

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