A Muslim mother in the sharia-ruled country of Iran, was talking about her 10-year-old daughter: “She asked me, ‘Why can’t I dance? We dance because we are happy. How can being happy be wrong? Why is dancing a crime?'” She spoke about the confusion in her daughter’s eyes. “It is a question I don’t know how to answer.”
Her daughter’s life had changed, she said, when she heard that a 19-year-old woman named Maedeh Hojabri had become the target of Iran’s Islamist “morality” police. Her crime? Posting video clips of herself dancing on popular worldwide social media sites, like Instagram. The consequences for an act like that are severe. As has happened to other young women who posted video clips of themselves dancing, Hojabri was arrested, jailed without due process and without an opportunity to defend herself, and publicly shamed with a televised confession of her “crime.”
Hojabri’s dancing videos on Instagram made her a popular figure on Instagram in Iran, and gained her hundreds of thousands of followers on the social media platform. Imagine, if she were living in the West, how she would be treated. She would likely have been considered talented, have had opportunities thrown at her, been invited on popular shows and be sponsored for radio and television programs.
But in a sharia-governed state such as the Islamic Republic of Iran, authorities consider people like Hojabri disgraced criminals. The irony is that it is many of the extremist leaders of her country — a state sponsor of terrorism — who should be regarded as criminals. These are the men who view Hojabri and others like her — who simply wish to spread joy — as an intolerable danger to their country.