Iran Releases Young Iranians Arrested For Making A Viral Pharrell “Happy” Video

The terms of their release remain unclear.

1. Iranian police have released the young Iranians arrested Tuesday after a video of them dancing in Tehran to Pharrell’s “Happy” song went viral last month. The exact terms of their release are unclear. Police released the director days later on May 29.

2. On Wednesday, one of the detained “Happy” stars posted to her Instagram announcing her release and thanking supporters.

3. After the Tuesday arrests, Iranian police forced the youths to appear on state TV and confess to their crimes. No official charges appear to have been filed, though mixed dancing and females appearing in public without a veil are against the law in Iran.

A shortened version of the TV broadcast was soon after uploaded to YouTube with English subtitles. During the televised interrogation, Iran’s police chief called the video “a vulgar clip which hurt public chastity” and warned other Iranians against trying to create their own videos and join in on the world-wide sensation. IranWire reported that Iranian police told the families that their children would be released on bail (the equivalent of $10,000) if they promised not to speak to the media.

4. The creators of the video made the original copy of them happily dancing on Tehran rooftops private shortly after it was posted last month. (Even so, the video received over 30,000 hits in the first four days.)

After news of the arrest spread, Iranians shared this copy of the video on YouTube. The young Iranians made the video in secret using their Iphones. One of the video’s stars, told IranWire in an April interview that she and her friends were scared, but excited to make the movie. “We want to tell the world that Iran is a better place than what they think it is,” she said. “Despite all the pressures and limitations, young people are joyful and want to make the situation better.” As the video gained popularity, the youths also gave several other media interviews.

5. News of the arrests sparked international outrage. On Tuesday, Iran’s political satirist @kambizhosseini started #FreeHappyIranians, which soon spread fast.

6. By late Tuesday night, Pharrell tweeted out his support for the arrested artists. His tweet was both retweeted and favorited over 2,000 times.

It's beyond sad these kids were arrested for trying to spread happiness

— Pharrell Williams (@Pharrell)

7. On Wednesday, a Twitter account associated with President Hassan Rouhani tweeted out what appeared to be a message of support for the them. Rouhani has frequently spoken in favor of increasing media and Internet freedoms, despite little progress.

"#Happiness is our people's right. We shouldn't be too hard on behaviors caused by joy." 29/6/2013

— Hassan Rouhani (@HassanRouhani)

8. Rouhani is currently in China, where he was “happy” to meet with the United Nations Secretary General Wednesday morning.

Happy to meet with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on sidelines of CICA summit here in Shanghai.

— Hassan Rouhani (@HassanRouhani)

9. Few foreign journalists are allowed to work in Iran. New York Times correspondent Thomas Erdbrink in Iran argued via (the technically banned) Twitter that the arrests were representative of larger schisms between Rouhani and government hardliners.

The arrest of young Iranians dancing in "happy" video is just the latest in a string of coordinated actions by Iranian police/judiciary

— Thomas Erdbrink (@ThomasErdbrink)

The question is, Iranians tell me, will Iran president Rouhani, who says he is a moderate, speak out against the "happy" arrests?

— Thomas Erdbrink (@ThomasErdbrink)

According to Iran's constitution judiciary is separate power, often at odds with government polices, "Happy" arrests again illustrate that.

— Thomas Erdbrink (@ThomasErdbrink)

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