Six of the seven people, who were arrested in Iran for dancing to Pharrell Williams’ hit song Happy in a YouTube video that subsequently went viral, were freed on May 21. Iranian radio host and political satirist Kambiz Hosseini, who began the #FreeHappyIranians hashtag following the youngsters’ arrests tweeted that the director of the video was not released however.
— Kambiz Hosseini (@kambizhosseini) May 21, 2014
All the dancers were released, but the director of the video remains in prison. After their release, one of the six announced that she was freed and thanked Williams and everyone else who voiced their support for her and her friends. The fan video was created to Williams’ song Happy, which sold millions of copies worldwide, and like the original video, this one too, featured a montage of men and women dancing to the track in a variety of settings.
However, Tehran’s police chief Hossein Sajedinia ordered the arrests of the three men and three women involved in the making of the “obscene video clip that offended the public morals and was released in cyberspace” on May 20.
President Hassan Rouhani, showed support for the group of youngsters though through a tweet and this move led to speculation that he had a hand in their release.
"#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
Right after the arrests were made, Williams denounced the Iranian administration saying, “It is beyond sad that these kids were arrested for trying to spread happiness.” In fact, he was not the only who seemed unhappy about the arrests. The Twitter hashtag #FreeHappyIranians went viral with people from across the world condemning the incident.
#Iran a country where being "happy" is a crime.
— Golnaz Esfandiari (@GEsfandiari) May 20, 2014
The National Iranian American Council too denounced Iranian authorities.
“There are forces within Iran's government who want to keep the Iranian people isolated from the world… The irony that the Iranian youth were arrested for dancing to a song called 'Happy' seems to be lost on the Iranian authorities,” said the council in a statement.
Incidentally, the arrests were made only days after Rouhani said that Iranians should use the internet to communicate freely.