Solmaz Eikder, a female activist and Iranian refugee, dances on a street of Istanbul to protest the arrest of teenager, Maedeh Hojabri, who posted dance videos on Instagram.—Reuters
Solmaz Eikder, a female activist and Iranian refugee, dances on a street of Istanbul to protest the arrest of teenager, Maedeh Hojabri, who posted dance videos on Instagram.—Reuters

ANKARA: Iranians on social media mocked clerical rulers on Monday after the hardline judiciary arrested a teenage girl for posting on Instagram videos of herself dancing in her room.

Critics of the arrest of gymnast Maedeh Hojabri, 18, used the hashtag #Dancingisnotacrime and Iranian women posted videos of themselves dancing in public.

“You will be laughed at 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,” wrote Iranian blogger and political dissident Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki.

Iranian state TV aired a video in which she apologized for “breaking moral norms” but said any breach was not her intention. Some Iranian news websites reported three other people had been arrested on similar charges in the past weeks. The reports said they were released on bail.

“I had no bad intentions ... I did not want to encourage others to do the same ... I did not work with a network,” a crying Hojabri told TV on Friday.

Before her account was blocked by Iranian authorities, Hojabri had posted around 300 videos on her Instagram account in which she appeared without wearing the compulsory Islamic headscarf.

Under Iran’s Islamic Sharia law, women are required to wear headscarves and modest clothing in public and are banned from dancing in public.

The potential charges against Hojabri were not specified, but she is likely to be accused of running afoul of Islamic codes of behaviour that call for modesty in attire and behaviour.

“Art is the language of the soul, highest of the hopes, not a crime, said Twitter user @samzglam. Sharing her own dancing clip, @Marun_1 said : “usually I don’t share pictures and videos but today is an important day.”

Published in Dawn, July 10th, 2018