Teheran: After the Iranian authorities arrested Instagram dancer Maedeh Hojabri and forcedÂ her to confess to violating “moral norms”Â on state television, Iranians have begun posting their ownÂ dancing videos to show support.
The teenage Hojabri was among a number of Instagram users who were arrested and forced to confess. In the confession video, she says she did not work with any â€œteamâ€ or receive any type of training but made the videos mostly for her followers on Instagram. She had over 600,000 followers before her arrest. Immediately afterward, her videos of her dancing solo to Iranian and Western music, presumably in her own bedroom, went viral on social media.
The arrestÂ â€” or perhaps the forced confession on Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB)Â in which the girl, faceÂ blurred but visibly cryingÂ â€” struck a nerve among Iranian social media users, who began posting their own personal videos dancing in solidarity. Men and women of all ages posted their videos with the hashtag that can loosely be translated as â€œLetâ€™s dance.â€
Others criticized the Iranian judiciary over its priorities.Â One social media userÂ tweeted, â€œLikely the judiciary confronted Maedeh Hojabri in order to prevent the deviation of the youth and prevent the collapse of the family. If only they knew that the deviation of the youth, their irreligiousness and flight from religion is [due to] the lack of confrontation with the politically and financially corrupt.â€
Some exiled Iranian opposition figuresÂ called for theÂ sanctioning of the IRIBÂ for the forced confessions. OneÂ letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo read, â€œThe radio and television of the Islamic Republic continues to violate human rights with the broadcasting of forced confessions.â€
The forced confession had its domestic critics as well. Mohammad Amin Salimi, the secretary of theÂ conservative Council for Determining Basij Student Positions, wrote on Instagram, â€œI do not approve of what this lady has done â€¦ but the problem is the confrontation of some officials with this issue.â€ He criticized state television for creating an â€œeducational documentary about the dancing of a young girlâ€ when it has notÂ put in the same effortÂ regarding economic issues and other concerns of the public.
In other news, former President Mohammad Khatami, who is under an official media ban, met with young ReformistÂ activists andÂ discussed some of the nation’s problems. He warned about the pervasiveness of corruption, saying, â€œCorruption is an issue that does not recognize Reformists or conservatives.â€ Khatami stressed the need to â€œsave Iranâ€ and urged Reformists to work with any group it can to bring about the necessary changes.
Khatami also addressed the case of Sepanta Niknam, a Yazd City Council member who was suspended after a conservative candidate lodged a complaint that a member of a religious minority should not make decisions for the Muslim-majority citizenry. Iranâ€™s constitution not only recognizes the Zoroastrian, Jewish and Christian faiths; it also designates parliamentary seats for them so that the minority communities have representation.Â
According to the Iranian media, the Expediency CouncilÂ rejected Niknamâ€™s suspensionÂ and reinstated him. However, the affair was a major controversy with the head of parliament and the president expressing their support for Niknam. Khatami said that these issues were addressed by Iran’s senior clergy a hundred years ago, lamenting, â€œWeâ€™ve fallen 100Â years backward.â€
Khatamiâ€™s media ban was instated after his support for the 2009 Green Movement protests. A recentÂ Fars News reportÂ includedÂ a picture of Khatami, though the image was later changed to a blurred and out-of-focus one.Â (Credit article: Al-Monitor)