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Six young Iranians have been arrested for dancing to “Happy” in a viral YouTube hit, and Pharrell Williams isn’t pleased.
“It is beyond sad that these kids were arrested for trying to spread happiness,” Williams said via Facebook today, linking to a news story on the incident.
On May 19, the video was posted to YouTube, showing a group of young men and women dancing around the Iranian capital of Tehran to Pharrell’s No. 1 hit. What seemed an innocuous, cheerful gesture enraged the culturally conservative Iranian government. According to CNN, Tehran Police Chief police chief Hossein Sajedinia ordered the arrests of the dancers over an “obscene video clip that offended the public morals and was released in cyberspace.” Sajedinia said the “vulgar clip” had “hurt public chastity.”
The hashtag #FreeHappyIranians has taken off on Twitter, as the protest goes viral.
On the bright side, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani appears to side with the “Happy” dancers in a tweet today:
“#Happiness is our people’s right. We shouldn’t be too hard on behaviors caused by joy.” 29/6/2013
— Hassan Rouhani (@HassanRouhani) May 21, 2014
The Iranian “Happy” video is only one of countless viral adaptations from fans around the globe. In an recent interview with Oprah Winfrey, Pharrell was brought to tears by how his fans helped drive the success of the single, which topped the Hot 100 for 10 consecutive weeks.
Watch the video below:
This story first appeared on Billboard.com.
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