Six Iranians paid a high price for joining a global trend when they made a dance video from Tehran inspired by the music video for the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.
Today, all but one of these young people were released from jail after Iranian authorities announced that they had been arrested on May 20.
In a Twitter campaign, #FreeHappyIranians, Iranian netizens flooded the internet with tweets expressing their anger and disappointment.
The buzz was so hard to ignore that even the moderate Iranian president chimed in with an opinion on Twitter (ironically, Twitter is still banned in Iran).
“#Happiness is our people's right. We shouldn't be too hard on behaviors caused by joy.” 29/6/2013
— Hassan Rouhani (@HassanRouhani) May 21, 2014
Here is the video that led to the arrest of the “happy” Iranians.
The show must go on
The group were forced to appear on Iranian state television’s evening news broadcast, side by side, facing Tehran's Chief of Police Hossein Sajedinia. They confessed to being deceived into appearing in the clip by an unnamed man and woman.
In the footage, the arrested Iranians said they there were “tricked,” and had made the video for private consumption, and never intended for it to be publicly shared.
Is happiness a crime?
You cannot stop us being happy #FreeHappyIranians pic.twitter.com/gjzCIfuGPk
— مهریران (@mehri912) May 21, 2014
Sheema Kalbasi tweeted:
#ShariaLaw: Culture of humility, sorrow, flogging, executions, oppression! Happiness is a crime! #freehappyiranians pic.twitter.com/73HYmsYcry
— Sheema Kalbasi (@IranianWoman) May 21, 2014
Potkin Azarmehr tweeted:
35 yrs ago after an Islamic Revolution, happiness became a crime in a happy land with happy people :( #iran #freehappyiranians
— potkin azarmehr (@potkazar) May 21, 2014