Need a respite from awful news? You can opt to plunk down money for one of this summer’s superhero movies – or better yet – tune in to a few homespun videos viralling online that show the real, and stoppable, quest of Good trumping Evil. Pardon the use of that once-powerful verb. Thankfully, this is not a story about America’s Embarrassment-in-Chief.
Over recent weeks, Middle Eastern women have posted a series of clips on social media, some garnering millions of views, showing Muslima bravely fighting to free themselves from cultural oppression – in this case, compulsory wearing of the hijab. Specifically, these are Iranian women, people in a nation that the US war machine is currently antagonizing via Twitter.
The videos show women dancing, in public, in their homes, some with their backs to the camera. The bolder dancers look straight at the camera. The trend is notionally linked to the legal case of Maeade Mahi, who was recently arrested simply because she uploaded her dancing videos on her Instagram account. Green Prophet frequently reports on the power of dance.
Women in Iran who publicly dance or sing or show their hair are considered criminals. As example, Mahi, was sentenced to 20 years in prison. See her post-arrest video, below, and note that current news reports that her sentence has been postponed:
My heart is bleeding for #ShaparakShajarizadeh who’s reacting after she just found out she was sentenced to 20 years of prison. Let’s show her and the other brave #IranianWomen that they are not alone!#GirlsOfRevolutionStreet#Feminism#Freedom#NoToGenderDiscrimination pic.twitter.com/kBH27EvcpE
— Darya Safai (@SafaiDarya) July 8, 2018
Modern propaganda, using social media, can incite rebellion in a fresh and fun way. Documenting a cause digitally allows instant sharing, more likely when the message is presented in an appealing way. See the offending Mahi video, below.
Her name is Maeade Mahi. Recently she got arrested just because of uploading her dancing videos on her Instagram. If you are a woman in Iran and you dance or sing or show your hair then you are a criminal. If you want to enjoy your true self, you have to brake the laws every day. pic.twitter.com/0eIq5ld5x6
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) July 7, 2018
One Twitter user wrote: “I’m dancing so that they [the authorities] see and know that they cannot take away our happiness and hope by arresting teenagers and (girls like) Maedeh.”
This is not the first time dancers in Iran have been arrested for dancing. Earlier this year, an official in the city of Mashhad was arrested after footage emerged showing a crowd of men and women dancing at a mall in the city, while six people were arrested for Zumba dancing in August.
In 2014, six young Iranians who posted a video of themselves dancing to Pharrell Williams’ hit song Happy on the streets and rooftops of Tehran were given suspended sentences of up to one year in prison and 91 lashes. A year earlier, a group of Israeli soldiers danced their way to prison for their posted video of their “Harlem Shake”.
I’ll close with a quote from Persian poet Rumi, “Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free.”
Or, as Lady Gaga simply says, “Just dance.”