Iranian girl arrested, made to cry for dancing to pop music

Dancing in public is prohibited in Iran under legislation introduced after Islamic revolution of 1979

Dancing in public is prohibited in Iran under legislation introduced after Islamic revolution of 1979 More

Many have come out in solidarity with Maedeh and posted their own dancing videos.

The Washington Post reported several Iranians have also been arrested for teaching Zumba, a Colombian fitness routine, and in 2014 a group of at least six Iranians was arrested for making a version of the Pharrell Williams song "Happy", in which they were dancing on rooftops in Tehran. According to the New York Times, Hojabri said that she understood that dancing publicly is a crime and that her family was unaware that she was posting videos on Instagram.

According to Dazed, four women have been arrested in the past week for posting videos of themselves dancing on Instagram.

A supporter uploaded video of people dancing on the streets of London as she wrote, "We hit the #London pavement today, dancing in solidarity with #MaedehHojabri who has been sentenced to prison for dancing".

Eighteen-year-old gymnast Maedeh Hojabri would have been just another Internet celebrity in most other parts of the world, but in Iran, she has unwittingly become the face of rising dissent.

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Officials arrested the 17- or 18-year-old Hojabri after she shared videos of herself dancing to Western and Iranian music at home with her tens of thousands of followers. They are also banned from dancing in public under the Islamic Sharia law. I did not have any intention to encourage others doing the same ...

Shabooneh, a local news website, said Hojabri and three other individuals were detained on similar charges in recent weeks before being released on bail. "I did not work with a network", a crying Hojabri said.

Social norms, the unwritten rules about how to behave and what to wear in society, evolve and as more people follow them, they get hardened.

Iranian police have since expressed their plans to shut down similar accounts on Instagram. "I only do gymnastics", the Guardian newspaper quoted her as saying in the clip broadcast on Iranian state TV. Now, the social media users are sharing their videos with strong messages in support for Ms Hojabri using the hashtag #DancingIsNotACrime.

"I'm dancing so that they [the authorities] see and know that they can not take away our happiness and hope by arresting teenagers and [girls like] Maedeh", one social media user wrote according to the BBC. This is not the first incident when dancers in Iran have been jailed. "If you want to enjoy your true self, you have to brake (sic) the laws every day", tweeted Iranian activist and TV journalist Masih Alinejad. Earlier in January this year, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met with "cyberspace experts" to discuss challenges that the internet poses to the country's leadership.

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