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article image6 Iranians arrested for dancing in 'Happy' video are released

By Marcus Hondro     May 22, 2014 in Crime
Six young Iranians who made a dance video to singer Pharrell Williams' 'Happy' are free. They weren't free for a while though as they were arrested for making what Tehran police chief Hossen Sajedinia called a "vulgar clip which hurt public chastity."
The six, three females, three males, look to be in their early twenties and all of them appear in the video. They're dancing on rooftops, in alleys and in a room to the U.S. singer's hit song; they also lip synch. The video was made on a cellphone and posted to YouTube, Facebook and Instagram last month and has 270,000 hits, and counting.
Released on bail, they were only in jail a brief time; there are reports, unverified, that the director of the video remains behind bars. One of the youths, fashion photographer Reihane Taravati, wrote on her Facebook page "I'm back" but did not give other details. She did, however, thank Williams who heard of them and wrote on his Twitter site that it was "...beyond sad these kids were arrested for trying to spread happiness." On her Instagram account, Taravati later wrote she has "no control" over her Facebook page anymore.
Iran conservatives fear 'soft war' on country
The evening before their Wednesday release the dancers were put on national television where they renounced their own video. They said it was a mistake and they were forced to do it and that it wasn't supposed to be posted on social media. Human Rights groups protested the arrest and their appearance on Iranian TV.
Iran continues a struggle with freedoms and two major viewpoints have evolved, one view wants more freedoms and the other, the ultra-conservative view, believes change is detrimental to Iran and that freedom of choice must be severely restricted.
For them, women not covering their face with hijabs, which the women in the video did not do, and women dancing with — even mingling with — men, is forbidden. They align such a video with the West and consider Western music and films to be part of a "soft war" on Iran, seeking to push the country to adopting Western culture.
Iranians condemn dancers arrest
However, the arrests were greeted with open condemnation by many Iranians, who got on social media to denounce the police for such a hardline stance. It's unclear what is going to happen next with the dancing six, who could still face a court case.
One thing that may signal there may be no further action against the happy Iranians was a message posted Wednesday on the official Twitter site of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, a moderate, that was in support of the group: "Happiness is our people's right," the posting said. "We shouldn't be too hard on behaviours caused by joy."
Pharrell Williams' song has sparked similar responses all over the planet and videos of people dancing to it have been made in some 140 countries.
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