Youths tried in Iran for posting YouTube video dancing to Pharrell Williams song “Happy”

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The trial of six young Iranians accused of “undermining public chastity” after dancing to Pharrell Williams’ hit song Happy for a YouTube video has started in Tehran.

Amnesty International UK campaign chief Champa Patel condemned the trial and told MailOnline: “Arresting people for dancing in a tribute video to a song called Happy takes things to a new level of grim irony, even for authoritarian Iranian authorities.

“Iran already marks all freedom of expression, banning the use of satellite dishes, filtering the Internet and jailing journalists, artists and directors. The authorities should stop persecuting these people and drop this ridiculous case against them. ‘

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Young people publicly humiliated when their interrogation aired on Iranian TV with clips from their video

Sentenced: A group of six Iranian men and women were sentenced Wednesday to six months in prison and 91 lashes, after appearing in a video dancing on

Veiled: The three women in the video were seen veiled in interrogation footage

The friends were arrested in May after police took offense to the video, which shows three unveiled men and three women dancing in the streets and on the rooftops of Tehran.

A description of the video read, “We made this video as Pharrell Williams fans in 8 hours, with the iPhone 5S. ‘Happy’ was an excuse to be happy. We enjoyed every second of it. J hope this will make you smile.

Williams protested the arrests on Facebook, posting: “It is more than sad that these children have been arrested for trying to spread happiness.”

The video titled “Happy in Tehran” features the band dancing in various locations like the original and is one of hundreds of covers of the hit by fans around the world.

But after the video reached YouTube and racked up nearly 200,000 views with the help of Western news sites like the Huffington Post, authorities tracked down its stars, questioned them in footage seen across the country, and thrown in jail, although they were released later. under caution.

“After the broadcast of a vulgar clip injuring public chastity in cyberspace, the police decided to identify the people involved in the making of this clip,” Tehran police chief Hossein Sajedinia said, according to the report. ISNA news agency.

“After the broadcast of a vulgar clip injuring public chastity in cyberspace, the police decided to identify the people involved in the making of this clip,” Tehran police chief Hossein Sajedinia said.

Dismay: Pharrell expressed sadness over arrest of young Iranians

Dismay: Pharrell expressed sadness over arrest of young Iranians

The Grammy-winning singer has weighed in on the controversy.

“It’s more than sad that these kids were arrested for trying to spread happiness,” Pharrell tweeted, with a link to a New York Times blog post about the arrests.

The arrests came despite the three men and three women who tried to restore their fame by setting up their video in private when they realized it angered Islamic authorities.

“After a series of intelligence and police operations and after coordination with the judiciary, all the suspects have been identified and arrested,” Sajedinia said.

Their interrogations showed veiled women and angry officers asking questions. Sajedinia said they “confessed to their criminal acts”.

Islamic law states that women must cover themselves in public. The video appears to show three women dancing exuberantly on the hit on the rooftops of Tehran, without headdresses.

The move came at a confusing time since Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke publicly in favor of relaxing state censorship on the internet.

“We have to see (the Internet) as an opportunity. We must recognize the right of our citizens to connect to the World Wide Web, ”said Rouhani according to the official IRNA news agency.

“Why are we so shaking? Why have we curled up in a corner, clinging to a shield and a wooden sword, for fear of taking a bullet in this crop war? He said in a speech earlier this year.

He also posted a message which appears to support the accused: “Happiness is the right of our people. We should not be too harsh on behaviors caused by joy.

In an interview with IranWire in April before the arrests, one of the women explained that the video was meant to celebrate Iran and show young people having fun there like everywhere else.

“Despite all the pressures and limitations,” she said, “young people are happy and want to improve the situation. They know how to have fun, like the rest of the world.


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