Iranian women are being arrested for dancing on Instagram

Iranian women have been arrested for dancing on Instagram

After their arrest, Iranian state TV had shown a similar video in which the group confessed to voluntarily filming the "Happy" dance video.

Dancing is considered a sin in Iran according to article 638 of the Islamic Penal Code: "Anyone in public places and roads who openly commits a harām [sinful] act, in addition to the punishment provided for the act, shall be sentenced to two months' imprisonment or up to 74 lashes; and if they commit an act that is not punishable but violates public prudency, they shall only be sentenced to ten days to two months' imprisonment or up to 74 lashes".

Iran has already blocked access to many social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and the Telegram messaging app. Millions of Iranians continue to use the sites through proxies and VPNs. Before her account was suspended, she was reported to have more than 600,000 followers.

After her arrest, an interview with Hojabri was aired on Iranian state TV where she admitted to knowing such videos were forbidden, according to the government-run Islamic Republic News Agency.

Iranians are protesting and mocking clerical rulers on social media after the arrest of a teenage girl for posting videos of herself dancing on Instagram. Maedeh Hojabri now has more than 11,000 followers and had uploaded dozens clips in which she is dancing to Western and Iranian music. 'In this land corruption, rape or being a big thief, animal or child abuser, not having any dignity, is not a crime, ' Roya Mirelmi, an actress, wrote under a picture she posted of Ms. Hojabri that got 14,133 likes. The Times reports authorities have said they may soon ban Instagram, and announced that 51,000 Instagram pages are under surveillance for vulgar and inappropriate videos. Earlier, the detainees had stated that they were unaware of the production and had been tricked into participating.

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And just like the case of Hojabri, their faces were not shown.

In February this year, Shaparak Shajarizadeh was arrested for waving her headscarf on a stick in Gheytarieh, a north Tehran neighbourhood. She received a 20-year sentence Sunday. Now you arrest #MaedehHojabri and she is only 18! Her arrest has also led to an outcry of support from ordinary Iranians who have posted videos of themselves dancing online in solidarity. "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.

The internet age, however, has added a new dimension of dissent.

"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", the BBC translated the tweet of one supporter.

The police have stated that they have plans to shut down similar accounts on Instagram, and the judiciary is now formulating regulations that may severely limit, or completely block the website altogether. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has often described websites as something akin to a Trojan Horse of Western culture and values. Their identities are still unknown and all of them were reportedly released on bail. "Naturally we must block it".

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