Tehran police arrested six Iranians who had made a fun homemade music video to Pharrell's hit song "Happy," and posted it on the Internet. The arrests quickly brought about international condemnation and, of course, a hashtag: #FreeHappyIranians. Update: Those arrested have since been released, according to Mashable, except for the video's main director.
The smiling young Iranians were forced to publicly apologize on state television for the "obscene video clip that offended the public morals and was released in cyberspace," according to the Iranian Student News Agency. The video, made last month, had received over 178,000 views, according to a message from one of the creator's Facebook page, but has since been made private. Here's a ripped version to enjoy.
It's light-hearted and enjoyable, although not particularly elaborate compared to the many, many "Happy" tribute videos that have sprung up over the past few months. It's also completely innocent and harmless by the standards of almost any place in the world that isn't Iran.
The six people in the video were featured on state television to apologize, and explained that they were just trying to express their love for Iran. "Despite all the pressures and limitations," one of the women, now wearing a head-covering, said, "young people are joyful and want to make the situation better. They know how to have fun, like the rest of the world."
The arrest and forced public apology quickly created an active Twitter hashtag of #FreeHappyIranians, and even Pharrell himself expressed his disappointment.
It's beyond sad these kids were arrested for trying to spread happiness http://t.co/XV1VAAJeYI— Pharrell Williams (@Pharrell) May 21, 2014
The New York Times notes that the arrests come just a few days after President Hassan Rouhani spoke about moving Iran into the digital age. "We must recognize our citizens’ right to connect to the World Wide Web," Rouhani said. "Why are we so shaky? Why have we cowered in a corner, grabbing onto a shield and a wooden sword, lest we take a bullet in this culture war?" he asked.