Seven young people made a dance video to Pharell Williams’ “Happy,” which is a very joyful song that people all over the world are making videos to.
They’ve been arrested. Their crime?
The video was vulgar and offended public morals, an Iranian police chief reportedly said.
The NBC News article assumes that Iranian president Rouhani sent out a moderate response saying that Iranians shouldn’t be too hard on “behaviors caused by joy”. But these were unmarried men and women dancing together. And the women were uncovered.
CBS has a less credulous account. They report that Rouhani’s speech about embracing the internet was censored by the conservative leadership. But let’s be realistic: When he says “embrace” he means “embrace the parts we say you should embrace”.
Here’s what they did to those cheerful young people:
Security forces tracked down and arrested all seven of the men and women who appeared in the video. They paraded them on state television like criminals on Tuesday night, lined up against the wall with their backs to the camera, their heads tilted down and their hands behind them.
A reporter from state television shoved a camera in their faces as each one expressed their remorse. They confessed that someone had tricked them into appearing in the video by promising them international fame.
Tehran’s police chief, Hossein Sajadinia, boasted on television on Tuesday that the group was identified within two hours and arrested within six. He then made a point that their speedy arrest should be a lesson to others.
“My warning to these people is that we will definitely identify them and punish them,” said Mr. Sajadinia on television.
How sad is it that happiness is punished in the Islamic Republic of Iran?
I did a quick YouTube search. There are plenty of “Happy” videos from Israel. No one was arrested for producing them. Some of them have several hundred thousand views. But yes, on college campuses, Israeli human rights “violations” are protested regulary. Iran’s? Almost never.
Here’s the video. Young people being happy. And the result is in the WSJ article–young people, their backs to the camera, compelled to say they were forced to make the video and lie about it.