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An Iranian Teen Was Detained For Dancing On Instagram

Iran has strict rules about how women dress and dance.

Posted on July 9, 2018, at 12:19 a.m. ET

Maedeh Hojabri is an 18-year-old resident of Iran who gained hundreds of thousands of followers on Instagram for her striking dance videos that are set to Western and Persian pop songs.

Hojabri and at least three other people who also had popular Instagram accounts were detained by the Iranian government in recent weeks, according to the Associated Press. The other three people's identities were not confirmed, but they were all released on bail.

On Friday, Hojabri gave a bizarre statement on a state TV broadcast saying she was aware she was breaking moral norms, but that it was not her intention and that she had only wanted to gain more followers.

"It wasn’t for attracting attention," she said, according to a translation published by the Guardian. "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."

It was not clear if the confession was coerced.

The Guardian reported that Hojabri's Instagram account had had more than 600,000 followers and has now been removed, but videos of her remained on Instagram and other social media sites Sunday night.

The videos show Hojabri dancing, lip-synching, and hanging with friends, and she is often seen without a headscarf.

Iran became an Islamic republic in 1979, at which time women were barred from showing flesh and required to wear headscarves. Women were also prohibited from dancing in front of men outside of their immediate family.

This is #MaedehHojabri. She is a 19-year-old Iranian girl who got arrested and reprimanded by her government for sharing her love of dancing with the world. Please make her famous. https://t.co/CxLIvpbqbF

Iranian officials said they planned to shut down accounts similar to Hojabri's and were considering banning access to Instagram altogether, the AP reported. The country has already blocked Facebook, YouTube, and the messaging app Telegram, although millions of Iranians still use these sites through proxies.

In 2014, Iran sentenced six young men and women to prison for dancing in a video to the song "Happy" by Pharrell Williams. Just last year, six people were arrested in Iran for teaching Zumba and for not wearing the hijab.

To show support for Hojabri, some women started sharing videos of themselves dancing to music.

Yesterday I created a new hashtag #برقص_تا_برقصيم Which means let’s dance to support #MaeadeHojabri hojabri on instagram you can see more videos here. چرا برخی از اصلاح طلبان فقط دنبال دعوا و دروغ هستند؟ https://t.co/wvrmTTr1Wq https://t.co/HXUBBiULfE

رقص زیبای زنی با عکس‌ #مائده_هژبری ستوده، آتنا،‌گلرخ و آرش در خیابان‌.ارسال کننده:زندانی کنید،متحد‌تر می‌شیم #برقص_تا_برقصیم دیکتاتور #بچرخ_تا_بچرخیم Islamic Republic arrested these brave women 4 dancing or fighting 4 freedom I am dancing in the street in Iran to be their voices https://t.co/GEECAYinPK

Iranians are posting videos of themselves dancing in solidarity with young woman who was detained for uploading her dance videos on Instagram. Based on Islamic laws enforced in Iran dancing in public is prohibited. #برقص_تا_برقصیم https://t.co/xOmGgfa88s

Solidarity with teenage dancer #MaedehHojabri Iranian women's are uploading their own dancing videos. Maedeh Hojabri, who was arrested and forced to confess on TV because she posted videos of herself dancing. https://t.co/tIEhfXJtil

#Iran : More & More Iranian women's are dancing in support of Maedeh Hojabri. #MaedehHojabri's crime was she uploaded her dance videos on Instagram. #FreeMaedeh #FreeIran https://t.co/wuuyYuxe7j

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