Iran Detains Teen Over Dance Videos Posted On Instagram

Source: RFE/RL

 

Iran has detained a teenager who posted dance videos on her Instagram page, which has more than 40,000 followers.

State TV broadcast a video recently in which Maedeh Hojabri, who is believed to be 18 or 19, acknowledged breaking moral norms while insisting that she wasn’t encouraging others to follow her example. Her face was blurred in the video.

Several other individuals detained for similar charges appeared in the video.

Iranian state TV has a record of airing confessions that rights activists say have been made under duress.

Islamic laws enforced in Iran prohibit dancing in public.

Hojabri had posted dozens of photos and videos on her Instagram account where she is seen dancing to Western pop and rap music. In the posts she appears without the obligatory Islamic dress code that requires women to cover their hair and body in public.

Some reports suggested Hojabri has been released on bail.

Iranian police have said they plan to shut down similar accounts on Instagram, which is used by millions of Iranians.

Last week, a hard-line news agency quoted a judiciary official as saying that the filtering, or blocking, of Instagram was on the agenda.

But shortly after, Communications Minister Javad Azari Jahromi said Instagram would not be blocked.

Earlier this year, Iran blocked the highly popular messaging app Telegram.

Facebook, Twitter, and other social-media sites are also blocked in Iran, though many Iranians access them through antifiltering tools.

Many Iranians on social media have strongly criticized the arrest of Hojabri by the hard-line judiciary while expressing support for the young woman.

In 2014, Iran arrested six men and women for dancing in a YouTube video to Pharrell Williams’ song Happy.

The three men and three women were later sentenced to suspended jail time and lashes.

The arrests resulted in international condemnation and calls for their release.

With reporting by AP, RFE/RL’s Radio Farda, and Radio Zamaneh