Hojabri's arrest has sparked massive support from many Iranian women who began posting their own dancing videos in support of the teenager with the hashtags #dancetofreedom and #dancing_isn't_a_crime.
"More & More Iranian women's are dancing in support of Maedeh Hojabri". State TV in Iran aired her "confession" on Friday. Her account has since been suspended.
Dancing is considered a sin in Iran according to article 638 of the Islamic Penal Code: "Anyone in public places and roads who openly commits a harām [sinful] act, in addition to the punishment provided for the act, shall be sentenced to two months' imprisonment or up to 74 lashes; and if they commit an act that is not punishable but violates public prudency, they shall only be sentenced to ten days to two months' imprisonment or up to 74 lashes".
Eighteen-year-old gymnast Maedeh Hojabri would have been just another Internet celebrity in most other parts of the world, but in Iran, she has unwittingly become the face of rising dissent.
Maedeh Hojabri had posted several videos to her popular Instagram account of her dancing in her bedroom to Iranian and Western music.
"For centuries people have uncovered themselves and danced and this religion wasn't harmed", Iranian cleric Mohammad-Reza Zaeri wrote on his Instagram page.
"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", one social media user wrote according to the BBC.
Iran has already blocked access to many social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and the Telegram messaging app. Millions of Iranians continue to use the sites through proxies and VPNs.
Iranian police have since expressed their plans to shut down similar accounts on Instagram. I did not want to encourage others to do the same ... The reports said they were released on bail. I didn't work with a team, I received no training. "I only do gymnastics", the Guardian newspaper quoted her as saying in the clip broadcast on Iranian state TV.
But many Iranians evade the filtering through the use of VPN software, which provides encrypted links directly to private networks overseas, and can allow a computer to behave as if it is based in another country.
Following their arrest, Iranian state television showed the detainees admitting that they were involved in the "Happy" production, even though they insisted that they had been tricked into participating. Earlier in January this year, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met with "cyberspace experts" to discuss challenges that the internet poses to the country's leadership.
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