Maedeh Hojabri would be an ordinary teenager just about anywhere in the world. The 18-year-old gymnast got famous on Instagram for posting dance videos and gained tens of thousands of followers – nothing we haven’t heard before.
The teenager, however, was detained by the Iranian police for those same videos. On Friday, according to the Associated Press, State TV in Iran broadcast a video in which Hojabri acknowledged breaking moral norms while insisting that was not her intention – she was only trying to gain more followers. As of now, it’s unclear whether the teen dancer made her statement under duress.
According to AP, Hojabri had posted around 300 videos on her Instagram account, many of which showed her dancing in both Iranian and Western styles in the privacy of her bedroom. In several videos, she chose to appear without wearing the obligatory headscarf. Though the original account was shut down, her videos were posted online by other accounts with several thousand followers each. You can watch them below.
AP also reported that according to Masih Alinejad, an Iranian activist, Hojabri was later released on bail. She wasn’t the only to be detained on similar charges either. According to Shabooneh, a local news website, three other individuals were also released on bail after receiving similar charges.
And that’s not all. Iranian police also said they plan to shut down similar accounts on Instagram. The judiciary is also considering blocking access to the site, just as has been done with Facebook, Twitter and other social media websites and apps.
Several people on social media have spoken up in support of Hojabri, and against the overall situation in Iran.
Women in Iran have been protesting against Iran’s strict modesty laws for years now through dance. Many of them have been performing dance forms like the Australian shuffle on the streets (video below).
In 2014, an Iranian woman protested against Iran’s strict laws by dancing publicly on the Tehran metro (video below). According to BBC’s video description, this was just months after a group of young Iranians were arrested for dancing to Pharrell William’s Happy.