Maedeh Hojabri became something of an internet star in recent months dancing her way into people's hearts the world over. The 18-year-old gymnast was detained after she was seen dancing to pop music in her bedroom and was not wearing a headscarf, which is required in the country.
She claims she was trying only trying to gain followers. She was shown on state TV giving what appeared to be a forced confession: "It wasn't for attracting attention", she said of her videos, while crying. Other individuals besides Hojabri also appear to have been detained on similar charges.
However, millions of Iranians continue to use these sites through proxies and VPNs. "I had some followers and these videos were for them. I did not have any intention to encourage others doing the same".
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Social media users across the world have reacted strongly to the teenager's arrest, as dozens of tweets populated the hashtag under Hojbari's name.
Thousands of Iranians reportedly took to Tehran's historic Grand Bazaar one week ago, forcing its shutdown in protest over the Islamic Republic's decision to spend money on Iran's adventurism overseas instead of helping fuel its troubled economy at home, where over 40 percent of its population is unemployed.
After the Friday broadcast, Iranian woman have showed their support for the teenager by posting their own dance videos to hashtags that translate as #dance_to_freedom and #dancing_isn't_a_crime.
Zahra Rahnavard, the opposition Green Movement leader who has been under house arrest in Iran without charge for over seven years was quoted by the Kaleme website as saying, "The head of the IRIB should apologize to the shared conscience of the people of Iran".
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.
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