In May, Iranian authorities quietly arrested four women. Their crimes? Posting videos of themselves dancing on Instagram.
Modesty laws in Iran forbid women from dancing in public. Last week, one of the four women arrested for her videos, teenage Insta-star Maedeh Hojabri, made what many believed to be a forced confession on Iranian state TV, according to the BBC.
But the authorities' attempt at public shaming backfired: Since the confession aired, Hojabri has become the face of a new resistance movement.
Using hashtags like
#مائده_هژیری, which roughly translates to #dancing_isn't_a_crime, people throughout the country and across the world have been posting videos of themselves dancing to show just what they think of these modesty laws.
Some activists have gone to public spaces like parks to take videos of themselves dancing outdoors.
I dance in a public park in Tehran to support Maedeh the 19 year old girl who got arrested for dancing. در پارک هنر… https://t.co/k04ypVXM7E— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@Masih Alinejad 🏳️) 1530982841.0
رویای یک رقص بیوقفه از شادی #برقص_تا_برقصيم #رقص #مائده_هژبرى https://t.co/8yKuJqIPOO— solmaz eikder (@solmaz eikder) 1531075754.0
Not all are quite as bold. Several videos have the dancer's face obscured.
I dance in solidarity with my sisters. Dancing is not a crime, putting a video of your dance on Internet is not a c… https://t.co/YlTZFG1Cou— Marjan Garmroudi (@Marjan Garmroudi) 1531157276.0
People of all ages are getting in on the action, sharing whatever dance means to them.
Men have also shared their support—no matter their skill or comfort level with dancing.
Iranians around the world are uploading videos of themselves dancing in solidarity with 18-year-old #MaedehHozhabri… https://t.co/jjAS0xMHwv— IranHumanRights.org (@IranHumanRights.org) 1531145828.0
In London, the staff of Amnesty International made their own video to spread the word.
Do you think this is a crime? In #Iran, it is. Teenager #MaedehHojabri was arrested for posting videos of herself d… https://t.co/v6BphzuWQq— Amnesty International (@Amnesty International) 1531142561.0
Gizmodo reports that Hojabri and the three other women have been released on bail for now. It is unclear what sentences they face. In 2014, six Iranian girls received a year in prison and 91 lashes for posting a video of themselves dancing to Pharrell Williams' "Happy."
Instagram remains one of the only Western social media platforms still allowed in the country. According to The New York Times, hardliners are arguing that videos like Hojabri's prove that it should be blocked. Clearly, the public does not agree.