Police in Tehran have released six Iranians who were arrested for posting a dance video featuring American singer Pharrell Williams's hit song "Happy" on the Internet.
Reyhaneh Taravati, one of the Iranian women arrested posted a message on Instagram Wednesday to announce the news. Taravati, "reihanet" on instagram, posted a photo of herself and thanked the singer and all others for their support.
"Hi I'm back. thank you @pharrell and everyone who cared about us love you all so much and missed you so much," she wrote in English.
In a post to Twitter, the International Campaign for Human Rights quoted a source close to the families of the dancers saying that all people who made the video were released, except for the director."
The controversial video clip that prompted the arrest shows three men and three unveiled women singing and dancing to the song on rooftops and in the streets.
Happy We Are From Tehran
Speaking Tuesday, Tehran's police chief called the dance video a "vulgar clip which hurt public chastity." Islamic law enforced in Iran requires women to cover themselves from head to toe.
"Police decided to identify those involved in making that clip," Tehran police chief Hossein Sajedinia was quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency, in a report by the French news agency AFP.
The police chief added it took authorities just hours to identify and arrest the six dancers, who were shown on state television after their arrests as a warning to other youths. The video was uploaded in April.
The original clip has been removed from the Internet, but copies are still available.
The song, featured in the animated movie “Despicable Me 2,” has sparked similar videos of people dancing down streets and smiling in choreographed crowds all over the world.
Those arrested said on the TV broadcast that they were deceived and that the video was not meant to be posted online, the AP reported.
“They had told us that this video won't be released anywhere and that it was for our own joy,'' one of the women said. Another detainee said: "They invited us to appear on the video to practice acting.”
It wasn't immediately clear if the six arrested faced criminal or civil charges or had lawyers, AP reported.
The arrests come as hard-liners increasingly challenge moderate President Hassan Rouhani, the AP reported. Rouhani campaigned for greater cultural and social freedoms during the presidential election last year and spoke last week about the Internet.
“We should see the cyberworld as an opportunity,'' said Rouhani, according to the official IRNA news agency and reported by the AP. "Why are we so shaky? Why don't we trust our youth?”
Hard-liners accuse the president of failing to take the necessary actions to stop the spread of the "decadent'' Western culture in Iran.
After learning of the arrest, singer Williams tweeted with his @Pharrell Twitter handle Wednesday that it is "beyond sad" the six were arrested for "trying to spread happiness."
Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.
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