It’s hard to imagine that police could arrest someone for joyfully dancing on camera, but that’s exactly what happened to six young people in Iran after they released a video of themselves dancing to Pharrell Williams’ hit song, “Happy.”
The Iranian dancers who starred in the viral video, “Happy In Tehran,” were arrested by Iranian police for dancing without veils and allegedly “hurting public chastity.” Tehran Police Chief Hossein Sajedinia called the video “vulgar” and warned that other Iranian youth should not follow in their footsteps.
Williams took to Twitter and Facebook to show support for those who were arrested. “It’s beyond sad these kids were arrested for trying to spread happiness,” he wrote. “So with all due love n’ respect we just ask that people be allowed to express themselves at least with happiness.”
— Pharrell Williams (@Pharrell) May 22, 2014
The Twittersphere rallied to support the filmmakers, launching a campaign with the hashtag #freehappyiranians to encourage their release. Thankfully, the people who starred in the video have been freed, according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, but the video’s director, Sassan Soleimani, still remains in custody.
Earlier this year, Pharrell encouraged people around the world to capture themselves on camera dancing to his uber-catchy song, “Happy.” The response was huge, and people from Spain to Jamaica shared joyful videos of themselves boogying down to the groovy tune. There’s also an inspiring video created by Syrian refugees dancing in an Iraq refugee camp who appear to be incredibly happy despite their seemingly bleak living conditions.