Six Iranian Pharrell fans starred in a music video of his hit “Happy,” put on YouTube under the title “Happy We are from Tehran” which currently has over 140,000 views. The original video was posted on YouTube about a month ago has been on the site for about a month. These three men and three women (not wearing veils) danced to the song around Tehran.
According to the BBC, they were then arrested, with police chief Hossein Sajedinia saying the “vulgar clip” had “hurt public chastity,” according to the ISNA news agency.
The BBC also said they have not confirmed how many were arrested, but unconfirmed reports say 13 people were detained.
The majority of the participants have been released, according to a tweet from Iranian radio host Kambiz Hosseini who also started the #FreeHappyIranians hashtag. However, the director is still in custody.
— Kambiz Hosseini (@kambizhosseini) May 21, 2014
And according to the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, a clip of which was put on YouTube and subtitled in English, the police chief said the men and women (referred to as “actors”) were all identified within two hours and arrested within six.
Iran Wire was told that the young producers all got phone calls, telling them that a friend had been in a car accident and needed their help.
“When they arrived at the address they had been given over the phone, security forces were waiting to arrest them,” the source said.
The source also said that while the families have posted bail to the tune of and equivalent of $10,000, the participants’ children will be released Wednesday. Allegedly, the children will be released if the participants do not speak to the media about their arrests.
Three days after the video appeared on YouTubeOne of the producers told Iran Wire three days after the video appeared on YouTube, “We want to keep on working inside Iran. Anyone can be creative and work outside Iran, but our aim is to convey the voice of Iranian young people to the world. We just want a chance to raise our voice, and say that Iran is a better place [than is conceived], that despite all of the pressures they face, Iranian young people are happing and striving to improve their lot in the world, with the highest of spirits. They know how to be happy, just like everyone else in the world.”
But in the clip from IRIB, one actor said that he and the others were promised the video wouldn’t be broadcasted, while another said they were told to audition and they would be made “world famous.”
And yet another actor said, “They told me they are making a feature film and they had a permit for it. They said those things and they fooled me.”
And Sajedinia’s advice for the young people in Iran? “Our dear youths should try to avoid these kinds of people,” he said. “Like actors, singers and these kinds of problems. Try to avoid it.”
He went on to say, “Here’s my advice to them. They should be absolutely certain that we were able to discover and identify these individuals in a very short time. We will certainly find out about who they are and confront them.”
But people have taken to Twitter with the hashtag #freehappyiranians to try to get those arrested released.
Pharrell himself commented on the arrest.
And the BCC said it seems Iran’s president doesn’t condone the arrest. Hassan Rouhani retweeted a statement he first tweeted last year:
“#Happiness is our people’s right. We shouldn’t be too hard on behaviors caused by joy.” 29/6/2013
— Hassan Rouhani (@HassanRouhani) May 21, 2014
At the end of the video, part of the credits said, “Happy was an excuse to be happy. We enjoyed every second of making it. Hope it puts a smile on your face.”