Authorities in Iran have arrested an 18-year-old girl for posting videos of herself dancing without wearing a hijab on social media.
Aside from posting selfies and photos with her loved ones, gymnast Maedeh Hojabri regularly posts videos of herself dancing on her Instagram account which now has over 76,000 followers.
Hojabri has posted around 300 videos so far on her account, many of which display her dancing to both Iranian and Western music. Her videos have also appeared on various Instagram accounts dedicated to her, although they have not been verified.
Women in Iran are required by law to wear headscarves and modest clothing in public. They are also banned from dancing in public under the Islamic Sharia law.
In a video released by the Iranian State TV on Friday, the teen is shown confessing to breaking “moral norms.” She, however, insisted that this was not her intention, noting that she was only trying to gain more followers, Reuters reports.
“I had no bad intentions … I did not want to encourage others to do the same … I did not work with a network,” Hojabri said in tears.
Hojabri’s arrest has sparked massive support from many Iranian women who began posting their own dancing videos in support of the teenager with the hashtags #dancetofreedom and #dancing_isn’t_a_crime.
While Iran’s diplomats in the Netherlands & Austria get expelled for their involvements in terrorism in Europe, Iranian regime arrest #MaedehHojabri in #Iran just for posting her dancing videos on social media!!!#WalkAway #WomenDisobey pic.twitter.com/xLogqnDCWY
— Iranian Youth (@Iran_Youth) July 8, 2018
میرقصم تا ببیند و بدانند با گرفتن نوجوانها و مائده ها نمیتوانند شادی و امید را از ما بگیرند و ما امید به دیدن ایرانی آزاد،شاد و با آینده روشن داریم.#مائده_هژبری #برقص_تا_برقصیم #westandtogether#westandwithpahlavi
ریتوییت لطفا تا همه ببینند🙏 pic.twitter.com/oGsWPSETGL
— داش مَموشی (@dashmamush2014) July 8, 2018
We hit the #London pavement today, dancing in solidarity with #MaedehHojabri who has been sentenced to prison for dancing. Maedeh is one of so many brave Iranians fighting for their human rights. #DancingIsNotACrime, #برقص_تا_برقصیم. Dance with us!🕺🏽💃🏽 pic.twitter.com/DR2EyaOOt1
— Yasamin Alttahir (@YasaminAlttahir) July 9, 2018
“You will be laughed at 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,” Iranian blogger and political dissident Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki wrote.
Iranian police have since expressed their plans to shut down similar accounts on Instagram.
Iran, which has already blocked access to many social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, is also considering blocking access to Instagram.
Millions of Iranians, however, are still able to access these sites by using proxies and VPNs.