Maedeh Hojabri, an 18-year-old gymnast, was detained by police after she posted a video of her dancing to Western pop music in her bedroom.
Hojabri recorded and posted around 300 videos on Instagram of herself dancing in what Iran would deem an "immoral" manner. In numerous videos, she did not wear a hijab, which is mandatory for women to wear in public in the country. Yet, she has amassed thousands of followers for her moves. Sharing her own dancing clip, @Marun_1 said:"usually I don't share pictures and videos but today is an important day". Iranian officials said last week the judiciary was considering blocking access to Instagram. Such departures from their mores feed into the agenda of hardline politicians battling the more moderate President Hassan Rouhani to limit access to social media platforms, which they see as corrupting society's morals and endangering national security.
On social media, Hojabri's arrest received many supporters who went to share videos for them while dancing, using hashtags like #FreeMaedeh, #MaedehHojabri or #DancingIsNotACrime. I did not have any intention to encourage others doing the same I didn't work with a team, I received no training.
In an Instagram post translated by the Guardian, blogger Hossein Ronaghi wrote, "If you told 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, they would laugh!"
Several people on social media have spoken up in support of Hojabri, and against the overall situation in Iran.
A Twitter user wrote, "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".
Six people were arrested in August after partaking in Zumba, an exercise that involves dancing, the BBC reported.
Iranian-American researcher Reza Akbari said the Iranian authorities efforts were counterproductive to their aims.
In September 2014, seven young people were sentenced to prison time and flogging, sentences that were later reduced upon appeal, for producing a video of themselves dancing to Pharrell Williams' "Happy" at different locations in Tehran.