In the West it would be considered an innocuous albeit amateur tribute video to singer Pharrell Williams' massively popular song "Happy." But in Iran, a video of six men and unveiled women dancing in Tehran to the hit song was enough to be arrested over.
"Sol Production" posted the tribute video on Monday to YouTube, which has already garnered nearly 40,000 views. Iranian police wasted no time in tracking down the happy Iranians, arresting them on Tuesday according to Al Arabiya.
Ironically the video contains a message of happiness overcoming all, including the lyrics: "Here come bad news talking this and that,/ give me all you got, and don’t hold it back,/ I should probably warn you I’ll be just fine,/ no offense to you, don’t waste your time." The bridge to the song's chorus repeats: "Bring me down, can't nothing/ bring me down, my level's too high."
Apparently Iranian police rose to the challenge of "bringing down" the joyful Tehran residents, who wrote in the closing of the video: "we have made this video as Pharell William's (sic) fans in 8hrs, 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."
Tehran police chief Hossein Sajedinia did not have a smile on his face as he said "after a vulgar clip which hurt public chastity was released in cyberspace, police decided to identify those involved in making that clip,” reports the official ISNA News Agency.
"Following a series of intelligence and police operations and after coordinating with the judiciary, all the suspects were identified and arrested," Sajedinia added. ISNA said the three men and three women had "confessed to their criminal acts."
Under Iran's Islamic law, women are required to cover themselves from head to toe. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has reportedly opposed the Islamic regime's "morality police," known as Gashte Ershad (Guidance Patrol), which has the power to arrest Iranian citizens over modes of dress. The recent arrests seem to testify to that effort falling flat.
Rouhani in late April noted Women's Day by confessing that "there are still so many deficiencies with regards to the vindication of women’s rights" in Iran. “Based on the Islamic criteria, we neither consider men as the first sex nor women as the second sex...they both have the same human dignity and none is superior," he added.
That message was countered by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who said "equality between women and men is a Western matter and completely wrong. [Gender] equality is not always the outcome of justice."