Iran Releases Detained, Humiliated 'Happy' Dancers on Bail After Rouhani Tweet
Six dancers arrested in Iran for uploading a video of themselves dancing without the mandatory hijab on YouTube to Pharrell's hit "Happy" have been released after a tweet from President Hassan Rouhani supporting them. The group, according to reports, were forced to strip naked and denied bathroom access during their detention.
The six dancers were released Thursday, though Fox News reports that the director of the video remains in prison. Some of the dancers were forced to appear on national state television during their detention, in which officers praised the work of the Tehran police force and some of the dancers claimed that they were tricked into appearing in the video and were told the video would not be broadcast.
The members of the group were arrested this week after their video began receiving hundreds of thousands of hits on YouTube. Men and women dancing together is illegal in Iran, and the hijab is mandatory. The video was part of a greater campaign by Pharrell in which he encouraged fans to upload videos of themselves being happy to promote the song. Tehran Police Chief Hossein Sajedinia described the clip as an "obscene video clip that offended the public morals and was released in cyberspace."
Pharrell himself has expressed his dismay with the arrests, calling them "beyond sad" on Twitter. He also responded to President Hassan Rouhani's tweet appearing to support the dancers by highlighting that the President of Iran likely has some say in who gets arrested in Iran:
While many celebrate the release of the dancers on bail, the harrowing details of their arrest are now surfacing. According to the Daily Beast, the dancers were arrested during a raid at the home of artist and photographer Rayhaneh Taravati Sunday in which much of her art was destroyed. She and the other female dancers were allegedly denied access to toilet facilities in jail and forced to strip naked and perform squats in front of female police officers. They were also allegedly heavily interrogated and placed in solitary confinement.
In addition to the humiliation in prison, the dancers appeared on state television to repent on Tuesday, with some claiming they were tricked into performing the video.
The dancers were released on bail and are likely to yet face charges for their behavior, though the Associated Press notes that it is unclear what charges they will face or whether they will have legal representation in court.