In what sounds like something out of The Handmaid’s Tale, women in Iran are being arrested for dancing on social media. Recently, the country has been cracking down on its Instagram stars, with at least four influencers arrested this week for posting videos to the image-sharing site.
One of these women was 17-year-old Maedeh Hojabri, a gymnast with 600,000 followers. The teen was broadcast in tears on state TV while giving what activists believe to be a forced confession.
The Iranian Government has stringent rules regarding women’s dress, as well as dancing in public. Maedeh’s harmless videos break these tough laws, as they show her without the mandatory hijab.
Instagram is one of the few social networks that is not massively censored in the country, whereas Facebook and Twitter is more restricted. However, women across Iran are now showing their support for the youngster on social media, using the hashtag #dancing_isn’t_a_crime. While other women have bravely executed public dance protests, including Iranian journalist and activist Masih Alinejad.
Popular Iranian blogger Hossein Ronaghi shared: “If you tell people anywhere in the world that 17 and 18-year-old girls are arrested for their dance, happiness and beauty on charges of spreading indecency, while child rapists and others are free, they will laugh! Because for them, it’s unbelievable!”
However, this is not the first time the country has locked up its citizens for dancing. Back in 2014, six young Iranians were arrested for uploading their homemade video of Pharrell’s hit song “Happy” to YouTube. The group were given a suspended sentence of 91 lashes and six months in jail.
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