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“Happy” Causing Unhappiness

May 22nd, 2014

For six young Iranians, showing they’re “happy” sure caused them, ironically, a lot of unhappiness.

They posted a YouTube video of themselves dancing to Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” — the song you’ve heard a million, gazillion times on the radio and have seen YouTube videos of people all over the world dancing to (or you can in the Oprah interview at the bottom of this post).

After the six Iranians posted their version Monday … they were arrested for it.

It’s probably difficult for many of us to understand why they were arrested but society in Iran  is restrictive and people have less personal freedoms. The young women in the video, for example, were not wearing the head scarves required there. The actions of all six were considered “vulgar” and immoral.

President Hassan Rouhani, elected last year, is a little more open … to Iran’s society being more open. This is what he tweeted last year (yes, he has a Twitter account) and re-tweeted this week.

That’s a pretty prescient statement (pron: pre-see-ent. It means seemingly having knowledge of an event before it happens).

And he had just given a speech Tuesday, ironically, about how Iran should embrace the Internet saying, “We must recognize our citizens’ right to connect to the World Wide Web.”  The Internet there is heavily filtered.

But the president isn’t the most powerful person in Iran, the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is. And he’s in charge of the judiciary and security forces, who weren’t so sympathetic.

Also, Iran’s government and the U.S. have not been on friendly terms for decades and the video was interpreted by the Iranian government as Iranians acting a lot like Westerners.

Five of the six people in the video were released on bail yesterday (which usually means that if you pay a fee, you don’t have to wait in jail until you go in front of a judge), so their troubles aren’t likely over yet.  The New York Times reported that the bail amount is at least 30 million toman or the equivalent of around $10,000 each!

The director of the video is still being held.

Pharrell Williams responded on his Facebook page:

You can read more at the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran .


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