The homemade YouTube video showed the group dancing to Pharrell Williams’ hit “happy.”
They were arrested for making, what the Iranian police called an “obscene video”.
This week the six young men and women were arrested by Iranian authorities and paraded in front of state TV cameras for shooting the video.
In the video the young Iranians are seen playfully dancing and lip syncing. The music video received nearly one hundred thousand hits on YouTube and closes with this written message:
“Happy” was an excuse to be happy. We enjoyed every second of making it. Hope it puts a smile on your face.
Tehran’s police chief wasn’t smiling when he boasted on state television that the group was arrested within six hours because they made an obscene video without a permit from authorities. Other state media reports described the music video as vulgar.
The Islamic Republic forbids men and women from dancing with one another. Punishment can range from a prison sentence to a lashing and a fine. The women in the video also appear without the mandatory Islamic hair veil.
In the arrest video, aired on state television, several of the accused performers have their backs to the camera but they can be heard quivering as they tell a reporter they were misled by the video’s producer.
The arrests sparked outrage on social media. Pharrell williams himself posted on his facebook page: it’s beyond sad that these kids were arrested for trying to spread happiness.
In his first year as President, Hassan Rouhani has pushed for more social freedoms and signaled a more moderate Iran – a campaign Tehran hopes will win goodwill amid the current nuclear negotiations with world powers.
In an apparent message of support for the young Iranians a tweet on president Rouhani’s twitter account said ‘happiness is our people’s right. We shouldn’t be too hard on behaviors caused by joy.
Whether Rouhani’s tweet helped persuade authorities to release the group on bail is not clear.