Iran President Hassan Rouhani ‘Defends’ Six Iranians Arrested for Dancing to Pharrell Williams’ ‘Happy’

  @snksounak on
Iran's President Rouhani smiles during session of World Economic Forum in Davos
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani smiles during a session at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos January 23, 2014.

Six Iranians were arrested after they had recorded themselves while dancing and singing. Later they posted the video on YouTube. According to the local police, the people who were arrested had been dancing to the Pharrell Williams chartbuster song Happy. Even though the people were arrested for being "Happy," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani apparently defended them in his tweet. . "#Happiness is our people's right. We shouldn't be too hard on behaviors caused by joy," Mr Rouhani tweeted.

The video shows three Iranian women without veil along with three native men. They are apparently having fun on the rooftops and the streets in Tehran. The Islamic Republic strongly discourages women against removing their hijab in public. Iranian women were earlier encouraged to remove their hijab and upload their photos on Facebook. London-based Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad created the Facebook page, called "Stealthy Freedoms of Iranian Women," on May 3, 2014. The page has already got more than 334,000 likes until May 21.

Happy, which is originally from the Despicable Me 2, has a unique music video which was promoted as "the world's first 24 hour music video." It shows several people dancing around Los Angeles. There were several celebrities who did a cameo in it. The list of celebrities includes Magic Johnson, Kelly Osbourne, Jimmy Kimmel, Jamie Foxx, Steve Carell and Miranda Cosgrove. They mime the song at various times of a single day.

Time quoted Tehran Policy Chief Hossein Sajedinia calling the video clip "vulgar." "After a vulgar clip which hurt public chastity was released in cyberspace, police decided to identify those involved in making that clip," Sajedinia told the Iranian news agency ISNA, "Following a series of intelligence and police operations and after coordinating with the judiciary, all the suspects were identified and arrested." He also said that the accused had "confessed to their criminal acts."

CNN reported that the arrested Iranians had been released. It was the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that confirmed the release on Wednesday, May 21. However, the person who directed the YouTube video was not released. One of the arrested people, Reihane Taravati, thanked Williams and "everyone who cared about" on her Instagram account.

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