Six Iranians, three men and three women, were arrested for making a dance video to Pharrell Williams hit single Happy. According to officials, a permit is required to make any type of video. Further, it seems that for the women to be unveiled and dancing with men, is directly in violation of the law. The fact that the video was posted to social media is what brought this to Iranian officials attention, and has prompted the police chief to state that the video is obscene. President Hassan Rouhani posted to his Twitter account that his people have the right to happiness, and that being hard on behavior reflecting that joy is un-called for. However this appears to be a re-tweet of an older message, and has been re-posted to reflect his feelings on this particular incident. Pharrell Williams stated that having kids arrested for spreading happiness is’beyond sad and is fully against the arrests according to his Facebook page. This song is meant to make people happy, and to want to dance to express their joy, and even brought Williams to tears as he watched a fan video showing hundreds of people around the world expressing their happiness.
The Video (below) shows the men and women dancing and singing in various places in Iran, just like its counterpart that was done in the United States. The woman who helped make the video announced on her Facebook page that the video had over 178K views and she thanked the fans. However she is now the only one happy, as word of the arrests hit the web the outrage was instantaneous. Twitter is alive and trending with #FreeHappyIranians and has worldwide attention. The men and women that were arrested were forced to apologize on TV for their actions, which were considered inappropriate by the Iranian government. The National Iranian American Council has been speaking out on this issue stating that the government wants to keep their people isolated from the world. These arrests came just a few days after the Iranian president told citizens to utilize the internet for communications, stating it is an opportunity to increase efficiency and could help create jobs.
The laws are harsh when it comes to singing and dancing, stating that men and women can only dance or sing separately but never together. The social media outrage could certainly hurt the case for dropping charges as Iran wants anything but to be seen bowing under the pressure of western influence. Rouhani has been pushing for more freedoms and less moral policing in his country, and encouraging these freedoms may have just been the thing to lead these young people to expressing themselves through this dancing and singing video. The men and women seem to be dressed quit appropriately by western standards, unfortunately the simple fact that the women are unveiled and actually dare to dance with the men is the offense for which they were arrested. The end of the video, where the viewer is treated to a few glimpses into the making of the clip, will find one smiling along at the infectious grins and laughter of their genuine happiness. Hope that Iran will turn the corner and find moral policing wrong is high, and maybe a little good will come out of the arrest of these six from Iran, and the future will be brighter.
Opinions by Kristi Cereska