Five Iranian teenage girls were detained for uploading a TikTok video of themselves dancing without headscarves and wearing Western clothing.
On International Women's Day, a TikTok video was shared featuring five Iranian girls wearing crop tops and baggy pants and uncovered hair, as they recreated a viral TikTok dance to the tune of "Calm Down" by Rema and Selena Gomez. Their dance instructor posted the video on Instagram, which became widely popular as a symbol of opposition against Iran's strict Islamist government and its suppression of demonstrators, BuzzFeed News quoted Iran International's report.
Public dancing is prohibited for women in Iran, and they are obligated to wear headscarves and loose-fitting clothes. Following the incident, authorities allegedly searched for the group of teenagers in Ekbatan, a town west of Tehran, and their dance instructor's video was taken down. As reported by the Twitter account, @Shahrak_Ekbatan, which monitors news in Ekbatan, the girls were apprehended and detained for two days. They were forced to record a confession video apologizing for their conduct. A screenshot, supposedly from the confession video, displays the girls wearing long, loose clothing and headscarves.
The incident sparked an additional surge of fury and further instigated opposition to the Iranian authorities, who had already been confronted with enormous demonstrations in recent months regarding limitations on women. Since the apology video was shared, many have shared videos of themselves recreating the dance in solidarity with the girls who were detained and forced to apologize. In reaction to the Iranian government's treatment of these teenage girls, women both in Iran and outside of the country commenced uploading videos on social media of themselves and others performing the same dance routine in public, without headscarves, in solidarity with the detained teenagers.
This video of Iranian girls in Tehran’s Ekbatan neighborhood dancing unveiled to the song Calm Down by Rema and Selena Gomez has gone viral.— Iran International English (@IranIntl_En) March 9, 2023
Women are banned from dancing in public in Iran. pic.twitter.com/2hSsY4KFEg
The demise of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish woman who was taken into custody by the morality police for wearing a hijab "improperly" and later died in police custody, triggered extensive protests across Iran in September 2022. The authorities contended that Amini passed away from a heart attack while in custody, whereas her family claimed that she was subjected to violence. The demonstrations, which started as a response to her death, rapidly transformed into a broader expression of dissatisfaction with the Iranian government.
Over the past six months, Iranian security forces have frequently employed severe measures to quell demonstrations, even detaining minors. Amnesty International released a report on Thursday indicating that children taken into custody during and after protests were subjected to electric shocks, had their heads submerged in water, was sexually violated, and were threatened with rape. Many of these children were only released after signing letters of "repentance" and pledging not to join future protests, as per the human rights group's investigation.
Whilst Iranian teen girls hunted by the regime’s forces for posting viral TikTok dance to Selena Gomez song, the ‘elite kids’ allowed to party in Tehran amid ties to officials. pic.twitter.com/KiAXTL741j— RKOT (@RKOTOfficial) March 13, 2023
Numerous unexplained cases of poisoning have occurred throughout the country, resulting in over 1,000 schoolgirls being hospitalized. The Iranian Interior Minister, Ahmad Vahidi, is leading the investigations into the incidents and has claimed that 90% of the hospitalizations were due to "stress and worries caused by the news." However, many Iranians have rejected this explanation as "ridiculous" and have criticized the government for not taking appropriate measures despite extensive monitoring of citizens.
ویدیوهای رسیده حاکی است دختران از نقاط مختلف ایران در حال رقصیدن با ترانه «Calm down» سلنا گومز و رما در حمایت از دختران شهرک اکباتان تهران هستند pic.twitter.com/t6RtdfRtfm— ايران اينترنشنال (@IranIntl) March 12, 2023
The United Nations issued a press release on Thursday describing the poisonings as "deliberate" and criticized the government for its failure to safeguard the girls and promptly investigate the incidents.