Reported by Liku Zelleke
Pharell Williams released “Happy” and, quite literally, made people across the world happy. As of May this year, more than 1,500 videos honoring the song were made in almost every country across the globe.
So, when six friends in Iran were seen dancing and goofing around in time to “Happy” in a video that was posted online a couple of weeks ago, people watched it with the same interest as they had the other hundreds of videos.
But when news reports came out suggesting that the six of them had been arrested, viewership skyrocketed.
Tehran’s Police Chief Hossein Sajedinia, appearing on state TV, confirmed that the dancers had indeed been arrested. They were then shown, first, as blurred images from the video and then with their backs turned to the camera.
Sajedinia said, “They were identified and arrested within six hours.”
The report also went on to say that the people arrested had said they had been deceived into believing that the video would not be posted online.
One of the women in the video said, “They told us that this video won’t be released anywhere and that it was for our own joy.”
Sajedinia warned the people that the police would confront anyone who challenged Islamic and social norms.
He added, “The youth should try not to be deceived by these people under pretexts such as acting or singing.”
“They invited us to appear on the video to practice acting,” said another one of the detainees.
Antigovernment criticism erupted all over social media networks. Williams himself tweeted “It’s beyond sad these kids were arrested for trying to spread happiness.”
Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday evening tweeted “#Happiness is our people’s right. We shouldn’t be too hard on behaviors caused by joy.”
Someone must have heeded his calls because it was later reported that all six of the dancers in the video were released, according to reports.