Outrage As Iran Arrests Woman For Posting Dancing Videos On Instagram

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.

On Friday, a state television network aired a video in which the girl acknowledged that she was breaking moral norms, but insisted that it was not her intention.

According to AP, it was unclear whether her statement was made under duress.

Some of the videos of Hojabri are still available online on both Instagram and Twitter and show her doing nothing that would be considered scandalous to even conservative American audiences.

Activists claim Maedeh Hojabri, whose popular Instagram account had nearly 600,000 followers, is among many others who have been arrested in the country.

Iran's Police for the Sphere of the Production and Exchange of Information (FATA) - better known as Iranian Cyber Police - are monitoring and shutting down Instagram accounts that publish videos of dance lessons.

Since the arrest, many people assume the authorities would now look to ban Instagram, one of the only western apps that remain unblocked in Iran - Facebook and Twitter are filtered.

Many women's activists responded by posting their own videos of themselves dancing.

Iranian human rights advocate Reza Pahlavi said Hojbari's only crime was her want to be free to live.

But shortly after, Iran's Communications Minister Javad Azari Jahromi said Instagram will not be blocked.

In response to the arrest, some women took to social media to post videos of themselves dancing, in support of Hojabri, using the Iranian version of the hashtag #dancing_isn't_a_crime. In 2014, six Iranians were arrested after they were captured on video dancing to Pharrell Williams' song "Happy".

The judiciary's enforcement of Iran's conservative laws comes amid a growing economic crisis and continued political pressure from the global community.

The three men and three women were later sentenced to suspended jail time and lashes.

Iranian woman are not allowed to dance in front of men except for close family members. She was among the many Instagram users arrested by authorities for posting videos on the social media platform in recent weeks.

Vanessa Coleman