Iran Arrests Teen for Posting Dance Videos

Maedeh Hojabri gave what appeared to be a forced confession on state TV
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 9, 2018 11:30 AM CDT

She filmed herself dancing and posted videos online—and now she's been arrested. The problem? Maedeh Hojabri lives in Iran. She filmed in her bedroom, not wearing a hijab. Through Hojabri's videos, in which she danced to Iranian as well as western pop and rap music, she gained more than 600,000 Instagram followers. Her account has since been suspended, but the BBC reports that many others are re-posting her videos on social media sites (see some examples here and here) as well as posting their own dancing videos in protest. "People would laugh at you if you tell anyone in the world that [in Iran] they arrest 17-year-olds and 18-year-olds for dancing, being happy and being beautiful, for spreading indecency, and instead pedophiles are free," a blogger tells the Guardian.

Hojabri was one of a number of popular Instagram users arrested recently in Iran over the content of their videos; activists fear the country will ban the social media site, currently one of the few western apps that hasn't been blocked. She was shown on state TV giving what appeared to be a forced confession: "It wasn’t for attracting attention," she said of her videos, while crying. "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 Washington Post reports the detainees have since been freed on bail. (Read more Iran stories.)

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