Go ahead and dance.
That seems to be the message from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in an apparent response to the arrest of a group of young Iranians who posted a homemade video set to the Pharrell Williams hit “Happy.”
The video, titled “Happy in Tehran,” shows Iranian men and women smiling and dancing in different settings. It is against the law in Iran for men and women to dance together, and for women to appear without veils, as they do in the video.
Wiilliams’ song has inspired hundreds of similar covers around the world. The message attached to the Iranian cover says: “We enjoyed every second of making it. Hope it puts a smile on your face.”
The video was vulgar and offended public morals, an Iranian police chief reportedly said. The original appears to have been taken down from YouTube, but copies survived.
Reports of the arrests drew worldwide outrage, including from Williams himself:
Rouhani, who has struck a far more moderate tone than his hardline predecessor, said last weekend that Iran should embrace the Internet, not see it as a threat.