Updated Sep. 21, 2014: According to BBC, young Iranians arrested several months ago for making Tehran version of Pharell Williams “Happy,” receive severe sentence, one year in jail and 91 lashes.


Originally Published On May 22, 2014: Seven Iranians were arrested after they posted a fan video of themselves dancing to Pharrell William’s song “Happy.” Six were released Wednesday on bail, however the director of the fan video remains in jail.



Iranian “Happy” video participants (www.instagram.com/reihanet)

According USA Today, the Iranian Students’ News Agency reports that the seven were arrested for posting an “obscene video clip that offended the public morals and was released in cyberspace.”


In an Iranian state television report posted on IranWire.com, the Tehran Police Chief Hossein Sajedinia boasted that “the authorities identified them within two hours. Six hours later, they were arrested.” He goes on to address other young people watching the report, “I warn them. Young people should not try to be deceived by these people in order to sing or dance.”



Iranian law prohibits women and men from dancing with one another. In addition, it is illegal for women to be in public without proper headscarves, as they were in the video.



Iranian "Happy" Dancers (www.youtube.com)

Iranian “Happy” Dancers (www.youtube.com)

News of the arrests has created strong international backlash.


Pharrell Williams posted about the arrests on his Facebook page, “It is beyond sad that these kids were arrested for trying to spread happiness.”



Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, also posted about the incident on his Twitter page. “#Happiness is our people’s right. We shouldn’t be too hard on behaviors caused by joy.”


#FreeHappyIranians (www.twitter.com

#FreeHappyIranians (www.twitter.com)

Soon after news of the arrests spread, the Twitter hashtag #FreeHappyIranians went viral, and thousands of people began voicing their support of the young people.

In an interview four weeks ago, the video’s stars told IranWire.com they made the video,

“to tell the world that the Iranian capital is full of lively young people and change the harsh and rough image that the world sees on the news.”

The fate of these seven people remains unclear, and they could still face charges.


What do you think of the seven Iranians being arrested for spreading happiness? Let’s talk here, or find me on Twitter @lydiayekalam