Six young Iranians have been arrested after appearing in a video dancing to the Pharrell Williams sensation “Happy,” prompting a response from the recording industry megastar.
While the group apparently was trying to make a contribution to the global phenomenon which has spawned hundreds of tributes to the song, authorities in the Islamic Republic viewed the video – which featured men and women dancing together – as “vulgar” and “obnoxious.”
The women in the group were not wearing veils as is mandated in the Islamic Republic.
It's beyond sad these kids were arrested for trying to spread happiness http://t.co/XV1VAAJeYI
— Pharrell Williams (@Pharrell) May 21, 2014
The New York Times reported that Iran’s state-run television channel aired a program showing the six confessing and saying they did not know their video would be broadcast.
“They had promised us not to publish the video,” one of the women said on the show according to the British newspaper the Guardian.
Tehran’s police chief Hossein Sajedinia characterized the video as “a vulgar clip which hurt public chastity.”
The Guardian reported that the six have not yet been tried and that in recent years, many political prisoners have been forced to appear on Iranian television making confessions.
In credits at the end of the video, the participants called themselves Pharrell Williams fans and said, “’Happy’ was an excuse to be happy. We enjoyed every second of making it. Hope it puts a smile on your face.”
A Twitter hashtag #freehappyiranian created in their support on Wednesday morning was being briskly added to by social media users from around the world, including these:
Happiness is a threat to Tyranny #freehappyiranians
— Justin J TR (@Justin_JTR) May 21, 2014
Do authorities in Tehran even understand the irony that they arrested these kids for dancing to a song called HAPPY?? #freehappyiranians
— Trita Parsi (@tparsi) May 21, 2014
This is a copy of the “Happy in Tehran” video which was originally posted online in April, according to the New York Times: