Outrage As Iran Arrests Woman For Posting Dancing Videos On Instagram

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Hojbari, along with other detainees, later appeared on Iranian state television to make a confession, which activists claim is coerced and a tactic often used by the government.

 

Iran has arrested a number of Instagram users over their media content, including a woman for her dancing videos, prompting outrage among activists.

Activists claim Maedeh Hojabri, whose popular Instagram account had almost 600,000 followers, is among many others who have been arrested in the country. The identities of other detainees have not been released. However, reports claim the accounts of those detained have been suspended.

Hojbari, along with other detainees, later appeared on Iranian state television to make a confession, which activists claim is coerced and a tactic often used by the government.

During the confession, Hojbari’s face is blurred, while she cried and shook, explaining her motivation behind recording the videos.

“It wasn’t for attracting attention,” she said. “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 detained woman’s videos seem to be taken in her bedroom, where she danced to western music, without a hijab. Women in Iran are required cover their head in public.

Ever since Hojbari’s arrest, her videos have been shared on different social media platforms, giving her reach to a new set of audience and it’s safe to say they were not happy with the state government.

 

“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,” said Hossein Ronaghi, a blogger.

Since the arrest, many people assume the authorities would now look to ban Instagram, one of the only western apps that remain unblocked in Iran – Facebook and Twitter are filtered.

Despite the outrage, Touraj Kazemi, the head of Tehran’s cyber-police, said his forces would continue their onslaught on popular Instagram accounts.

This practice by Iranian authorities is not new. In 2012, the death of blogger Sattar Beheshti in custody, led to the sacking of the head of its cyber-police. In 2014, a group of Pharrell Williams fans were arrested for filming themselves dancing to his song “Happy” on Tehran’s rooftops. They received suspended sentences of imprisonment and lashes.

Thumbnail/ Banner Credits: REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

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