Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Young Iranian fans arrested over Pharrell Happy video

untitled-3.jpg
untitled-1.jpg
untitled-2.jpg
rexfeatures-3721886d.jpg

A group of six young men and women have been arrested and forced to repent on state television in Iran after they appeared in a video dancing to Pharrell William's hit Happy.

The homemade music video, titled "Happy We Are from Tehran", was uploaded to YouTube last month. It shows the fans dancing around on a rooftop and in a private flat to the beats of Pharrell's eponymous upbeat tune.

"We have made this video as Pharrell Williams' Fans in 8 hours, with iPhone 5S. "Happy" was an excuse to be happy. We enjoyed every second of making it. Hope it puts a smile on your face," reads a message at the end.

The video was part of a global phenomenon that has seen hundreds of covers of Happy uploaded and promoted on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook feeds across the world.

The Pharrell fans appeared on state TV in Iran yesterday to confess to making the video, which Tehran's police chief Hossein Sajedinia described as "obnoxious".

"We launched a police investigation in cooperation with the judicial authorities and identified and arrested the accused within six hours," he told Iran's official news agency Isna.

During their appearance on TV, the group said that they had no idea the footage would be broadcast.

"They had promised us not to publish the video," a young women said on the programme.

The broadcast included a warning for young people not to get involved in viral videos, with Tehran police describing thehigh-spirited broadcast as "a vulgar clip which hurt public chastity".

"Our dear youths should try to avoid these kinds of people," said Sajedinia. "Like actors, singers, and these kinds of problems. Try to avoid it."

The original video drew in over 165,000 views on YouTube before being removed after it attracted the attention of Iran's morality police.

But the crackdown and TV confession appear to have backfired as far as public opinion is concerned.

Already, two more covers of Happy made in Iran have sprung up in YouTube, while Iranians and others reacted with fury to the fans' public humiliation.

"Iran is a country where being "happy" is a crime," tweeted Iranian journalist Golnaz Esfandiari, as the hashtag #freehappyiranians was rapidly picked up and distributed online.

Pharrell himself tweeted, "It's beyond sad these kids were arrested for trying to spread happiness."

The episode came as President Hassan Rouhani delivered a speech over the weekend arguing that Iran should embrace the internet rather than view it as a threat.

"We must recognize our citizens’ right to connect to the World Wide Web," said Rouhani. He has urged greater personal freedom in Iran on several occasions since being elected last year, but faces opposition from influential conservative forces such as the country's Revolutionary Guards.

TV confessions are common in Iran. Human Rights groups have denounced this method of extracting statements that may have been made under duress from the state.

It's not clear in this latest incident whether the group had access to lawyers, or when or how they will be tried.

Photos: Rex Features

Related

untitled-11.jpg

Iranian women unveil on "stealthy freedoms" Facebook group

use.jpg

Female friendship in fiction

hero-use.jpg

The UK's top gourmet vegetarian restaurants

bounty-bars.jpg

Top five recipes for healthy and sugar-free cakes, puddings and desserts

hero.jpg

The golden age: Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren and Liz Taylor in vintage Cannes pictures

hero.jpg

This summer's best beach books and holiday reads

Comments

More

Samantha Baines: “It’s time to leave our vaginas the hell alone”

The Call the Midwife star has her say on vaginal beauty treatments

by Kayleigh Dray
26 May 2017

Ramadan: The best places to break your fast in London

These London restaurants provide late night openings and special iftar menus

26 May 2017

10-year-old survivor’s letter to Ariana Grande is beyond beautiful

“I really hope you’re not too scared”

by Kayleigh Dray
26 May 2017

It’s official: this easy email hack is guaranteed to boost read rates

Make your emails stand out in your recipient's inbox with one simple trick

by Jasmine Andersson
26 May 2017

Fathers pay more attention to daughters than sons, new study shows

Dads are also "more emotionally engaged" with girls

by Anna Brech
26 May 2017

Men are totally devastated by this women-only Wonder Woman screening

Who knew they were such big fans of Diana Prince?

by Moya Crockett
26 May 2017

Dog breaks into studio to help reporter read the news

The internet is obsessed with this live news blooper (and for good reason)

by Kayleigh Dray
26 May 2017

“Get over yourself”: gymnast hits back at stranger who judged her arms

Alexandra Raisman responds to “rude and uncomfortable” incident

by Anna Brech
26 May 2017

Fighting for their rights: the heroic teens battling period taboos

"I wasn’t allowed to comb my hair, look in the mirror, attend school, read and write."

by Sarah Biddlecombe
25 May 2017

Twitter responds to terror threat level the only way it knows how

#BritishThreatLevels showcases the self-deprecating humour we Brits seem to love

by Amy Swales
25 May 2017