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.
رقص در برابر مسجد مسیحِ عزیز شهادتِ «امام صادقِ»و این مسجد اسمش امام صادق ! اگه زندان، «سرنوشتِ» منه، ترجیح میدم وا… https://t.co/vG7BRRg1OZ— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@Masih Alinejad 🏳️)1531131415.0
Not all are quite as bold. Several videos have the dancer's face obscured.
متاسفانه این روزها دخترکی به خاطر رقص از آزاد بودن محروم شده است. بگذارید برقصیم تا آرام بگیریم شما هم به کنار ما ب… https://t.co/wZ5HQ2BGEI— سفیداب (@سفیداب)1531068000.0
Men have also shared their support—no matter their skill or comfort level with dancing.
این هم #رقص امروز من تو کارگاه به یاد رقصندههای زندانی :) آزادشون کنید بابا، بزارید مردم با همین نیمبند دلخوشیه… https://t.co/daCq9PgJF9— 𝑀𝒾𝓁𝒶𝒹 𝐹𝒶𝒹𝒶𝒾 𝒜𝓈𝓁 (@𝑀𝒾𝓁𝒶𝒹 𝐹𝒶𝒹𝒶𝒾 𝒜𝓈𝓁)1531065450.0
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.