Maedeh Hojabri

Maedeh Hojabri is an eighteen-year-old gymnast who has been detained in her home country of Iran after posting a video of herself dancing on her Instagram account. Ms. Hojabri posted a video dancing without the required headscarf and dress code to her Instagram, and made a public confession on State broadcast, where she acknowledged that she did not heed typical moral norms, stating that she did not mean anything disrespectful - she only sought to gain more followers. It's unclear if the statement was made of her own volition, or if she was forced to admit wrongdoing.  

Ms. Hojabri had previously posted around 300 videos on her account. Some videos included her dancing in both Western and traditional Iranian styles, and several of these videos show her performing without a traditional headscarf. The response has been somewhat remarkable. Many women have decided to post dancing videos in support of the young teen. Women all over Iran have protested Hojabri’s arrest by taking their dance moves to social media and to the streets! Blogger Hossein Ronaghi posted, “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, they will laugh! Because for them, it's unbelievable!” 

The support that Ms. Hojabri has received is wonderful, but not much has been said about what will happen to the young woman (though she has been released from custody on bail). In the meantime, videos of other women dancing continue to surface, and it has been reported that some of these women have also been taken into custody. Though they have also been released on bail, police in Iran have blocked access to sites including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and have stated that they plan to shut down Instagram accounts with similar dancing videos in the future.

About the author

Keira Whitaker is a dedicated teacher, performer, and choreographer, who has been dancing for the past 21 years. She recently graduated from the University of California Irvine with a BFA in Dance performance and a minor in English.