Iran’s dance of shame

Maedeh Hojabri

The New York Times reports: Quote:

TEHRAN — Like many teenage girls, Maedeh Hojabri liked to dance in her bedroom, record it and post clips to Instagram.

But Ms. Hojabri lives in Iran, where women are not allowed to dance, at least not in public. The 19-year-old was quietly arrested in May and her page was taken down, leaving her 600,000 followers wondering where she had gone.

The answer came last Tuesday on state television, when some of her fans recognized a blurred image of Ms. Hojabri on a show called “Wrong Path.”There she sobbingly admitted that dancing is a crime and that her family had been unaware she had videos of herself dancing in her bedroom to Western songs like “Bonbon,” by Era Istrefi. End quote.

Good grief. She is a normal teenage girl. She’s pretty good too. By the standards of the civilised world, this is normal behaviour. Since when has dancing become a crime? Quote:

Whatever the authorities’ intent, the public shaming of Ms. Hojabri and the arrest of others who have not been identified have created a backlash in a society already seething over a bad economy, corruption and a lack of personal freedoms.

Since Ms. Hojabri’s televised confession, scores of Iranians have posted videos of themselves dancing in protest, while thousands more have posted pictures of her and written supportive posts on their Instagram pages. End quote.

Iranians put themselves at risk all the time for personal freedoms that we all take for granted. Many are at risk for defying the laws around the wearing of the hijab. This is a serious matter in Iran and can result in arrest and imprisonment. These young women take risks all the time for the right to behave like normal women. Quote:

In a further sign of hard-liner backlash, a woman who removed her compulsory Islamic head-covering in a public protest this past February has been sentenced to two years imprisonment and 18 years of probation, she said in an Instagram post on Sunday. The woman, Shaparak Shajarizadeh, who was arrested after photos of her defiant act spread on social media, wrote that she had received a 20-year punishment “for protesting against an unjust law.” End quote.

Trouble is, the hardliners will get their way in the end. Iranians have tried this before, notably in 2009, and it didn’t end well. Quote:

Last week the judiciary warned that Instagram, which has 24 million users in Iran, might be closed because of its “unwanted content.” Ms. Hojabri, and other internet celebrities like her are called “antlers” by hard-liners for the way they stand out on Instagram. End quote.

Girls just want to have fun but in Iran, it is never that simple.

What do you reckon, Golriz? You’ve been lecturing us all on freedom of speech this week. How about rights for Iranian women? No, you won’t go there, will you? It is much easier to spout rubbish in a society where saying what you think will not get you thrown in jail. That is the beauty of free speech, but you will choose to ignore the very irony that applies in your lecturing from above.

In the meantime, take a look at one of Maedeh Hojabri’s dance videos. After all, she wants us all to view them. That is what freedom is all about. Eh, Golriz?


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Accountant. Boring. Loves tax. Needs to get out more. Loves the environment, but hates the Greens. Has been called a dinosaur. Wears it with pride.

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