Uh-oh, someone tell the Obama Administration that YouTube videos are causing unrest in the Muslim world again! In this case, it’s a video made by six young people in Tehran, showing themselves dancing to the tune of the bouncy Pharrell Williams song “Happy.” It’s a pleasant surprise to find a half-dozen kids in Iran willing to film themselves doing something this playful and goofy:
Alas, what happened next is not surprising at all, because three of these young people were girls, and they’re not wrapped in burlap sacks. One is tempted to wonder what the Happy Iranians thought was going to happen. What did happen is that the lot of them got arrested, according to an article at Mashable:
Negar Mortazavi, an Iranian freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C., told Mashable that she wasn’t surprised the six people were arrested. When Mortazavi first saw the video, she thought it was dangerous to upload it online, considering its content. “Not wearing hijabs and dancing, boys and girls together — that’s three big red flags,” she said.
Iranian state television broadcast a video of the six people in custody on Tuesday, only showing them from behind; it also quotes a police officer who says that they “should try to avoid … this kind of problems,” according to the subtitles of a shortened version of the broadcast uploaded to YouTube.
Pharrell Williams expressed his displeasure with the arrests on Twitter, saying “it is beyond sad that these kids were arrested for trying to spread happiness.” And yes, of course there’s a hashtag, #FreeHappyIranians.
One of the women in the video said it was intended “to tell the world that the Iranian capital is full of lively young people, and change the harsh and rough image that the world sees on the news.” Alas, mission not accomplished.
Hey, I’ve got a great idea! Let’s surrender American oversight of web domains and put it under the control of a fuzzy international body, whose member states can bring their… unique understanding of free speech to the discussion over Internet control!