News / Middle East

    Iranian 'Happy' Dancers Released from Jail

    Reyhaneh Taravati announces she has been released in her "reihanet" Instagram post, May 21, 2014.
    Reyhaneh Taravati announces she has been released in her "reihanet" Instagram post, May 21, 2014.
    VOA News
    Police in Tehran have released six Iranians who were arrested for posting a dance video featuring American singer Pharrell Williams's hit song "Happy" on the Internet.

    Reyhaneh Taravati, one of the Iranian women arrested posted a message on Instagram Wednesday to announce the news.  Taravati, "reihanet" on instagram, posted a photo of herself and thanked the singer and all others for their support

    "Hi I'm back. thank you @pharrell and everyone who cared about us love you
    all so much and missed you so much," she wrote in English.

    In a post to Twitter, the International Campaign for Human Rights quoted a source close to the families of the dancers saying that all people who made the video were released, except for the director."
     
    The controversial video clip that prompted the arrest shows three men and three unveiled women singing and dancing to the song on rooftops and in the streets.
     

    Speaking Tuesday, Tehran's police chief called the dance video a "vulgar clip which hurt public chastity." Islamic law enforced in Iran requires women to cover themselves from head to toe.
     
    "Police decided to identify those involved in making that clip," Tehran police chief Hossein Sajedinia was quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency, in a report by the French news agency AFP.

    The police chief added it took authorities just hours to identify and arrest the six dancers, who were shown on state television after their arrests as a warning to other youths. The video was uploaded in April.
     
    The original clip has been removed from the Internet, but copies are still available.
     
    The song, featured in the animated movie “Despicable Me 2,” has sparked similar videos  of people dancing down streets and smiling in choreographed crowds all over the world.
     
    Those arrested said on the TV broadcast that they were deceived and that the video was not meant to be posted online, the AP reported.
     
    “They had told us that this video won't be released anywhere and that it was for our own joy,'' one of the women said. Another detainee said: "They invited us to appear on the video to practice acting.”
     
    It wasn't immediately clear if the six arrested faced criminal or civil charges or had lawyers, AP reported.
     
    The arrests come as hard-liners increasingly challenge moderate President Hassan Rouhani, the AP reported. Rouhani campaigned for greater cultural and social freedoms during the presidential election last year and spoke last week about the Internet.

    “We should see the cyberworld as an opportunity,'' said Rouhani, according to the official IRNA news agency and reported by the AP. "Why are we so shaky? Why don't we trust our youth?”
     
    Hard-liners accuse the president of failing to take the necessary actions to stop the spread of the "decadent'' Western culture in Iran.
     
    After learning of the arrest, singer Williams tweeted with his @Pharrell Twitter handle Wednesday that it is "beyond sad" the six were arrested for "trying to spread happiness."
     

    Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Dan H from: USA
    May 22, 2014 12:16 PM
    If the Tehran police identified these few young people in couple of hours who have not really done anything, how come they can not find the criminals who have taken lots of money from the Iranian people and identify them for months and years?

    by: Montana Man from: Montana
    May 21, 2014 3:08 PM
    Congratulations to these young Iranians for stepping out and spreading happiness through dance and smiles. Old school Iranians are afraid of equal rights for women, (aka decandent western ways). hahahahahah...wake up and listen to your youth Iran!

    by: wojtek z from: us
    May 21, 2014 2:56 PM
    Its how people are, one country you can get in trouble for not beliving in same religion as they belive, another place you cant smile, some other place if they dont like you they will sent a government cleaner to quietly kill you in the way so they have their hands clean.

    by: dancing{happfeet} from: United States
    May 21, 2014 1:32 PM
    We are aware in our country how some people outside see our culture over the top, with no morals. These young people and many more over there want grow and learn. I am proud of them, as if they were my own. ROCK ON YOU KIDS WERE GREAT. MAKE A DIFFERENCE WHEN YOU CAN!


    by: Marcy from: Illinois, USA
    May 21, 2014 10:34 AM
    This is why I am glad to be a USA citizen. I liked the video. It made me happy for them. I hope nothing happens to them!

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