iraniansSeveral Iranians were arrested in the country’s capital, Tehran this Tuesday.

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Their crime? Dancing and singing along to a recreation of Pharrell’s “Happy” song.

The Iranian citizens filmed their tribute to the Oscar nominated song weeks ago and posted it on Youtube in honor of International Happiness Day (March 20th)


“We wanted to tell the world that the Iranian capital is full of lively young people, and change the harsh and rough image the world sees on the news,” said Neda, a participant in the video.

Unfortunately, the Iranian government reinforced that image by jailing the citizens for their “vulgar” video. After the citizens were placed in custody, they were aired on television in a coerced denuncation of their “crime” to demonstrate an example to the Iranian youth.

Tehran police chief Hossein Sajendinia told the Iranian state-run news agency, “After a vulgar clip which hurt public chasity was released in cyberspace, police decided to identify those involved in making that clip. We launched a police investigation in cooperation with the judicial authorities and identified and arrested the accused within six hours.”

He urged the public to heed the warning stating ” Our dear youths should try to avoid these kind of people. Like actors, singers, and these kind of problems. Try to avoid it.”

The Iranian government, whose motto translates to ” Independence, freedom, the Islamic Republic” has faced crticism for their strict enforcement of Islamic law by several human rights campaigns. The country still regularly blocks websites and satellite broadcasts into the nation. The seemingly harmless video of the “Happy” citizens dancing and singing to the tune of Pharrell’s catchy hit violates bans against women dancing in public and being seen without a hijab. The video was also criticized for promoting Western culture.

Critics took to Twitter to voice their opinion and created the hashtag #freehappyiranians in support of those held in custody.

Pharrell went on Facebook to express his views on the incident, posting,