Six young men and women, who were arrested and detained in Tehran for making a video in which they danced to Pharrell William’s hit song “Happy” should be immediately released, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today.
The youth were paraded on state TV on May 20, 2014, where they were forced to express remorse for their “guilty” act.
“If it is now a criminal act for youth to show their happiness in Iran, then law enforcement, and the hardline centers of power they represent, must really be running scared. This is exactly the kind of moment when Rouhani must take a stand,” said Campaign Executive Director Hadi Ghaemi.
The video, set to the smash 2013 hit, went viral on YouTube, where it was viewed well over a hundred thousand times before being removed. The video is no longer publicly available. A copy of it was posted on YouTube today and can be viewed here.
A Twitter campaign, #freehappyiranians, calling for the release of the youth, was launched on May 20.
It is not clear what charges the youths face; authorities referred to their “criminal act” which included making a video that “hurt the public’s chastity.”
Six months after starting a humanist charity in 2010, Dale McGowan unveiled a philanthropist’s version of a beta test. He already offered donors to his organization, the Foundation Beyond Belief, the opportunity to designate their gifts for groups that worked in fields like refugee aid and environmentalism. Then, in an contrarian brainstorm, he decided to try adding a category for progressive religious bodies.
He thought he had found the perfect test case with Quaker Peace and Social Witness, part of the British branch of the Society of Friends. Here was a nondogmatic denomination with a longstanding commitment to pacifism, racial equality and economic fairness. What, even for atheists, agnostics and freethinkers, was there not to like?
Well, Mr. McGowan soon enough found out. “No way am I going to give my money to groups that will use it to hit my kids over the head with a Bible,” wrote one member in an email as he cut off his financial support. A blogger on the site No Forbidden Q uestions put the objections somewhat more elegantly: “While I’m happy to hear when people move away from fundamentalism toward a more liberal understanding of religion, I think it would be best if people became (or stayed) atheist, and that’s the goal I want to support.”
MOSCOW — A spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church strongly denounced the Eurovision Song Contest’s transgender winner, saying it was a sign of the world’s moral decline and part of an effort to “reinforce new cultural norms.”
Conchita Wurst, the stage name of a former band singer from Austria named Tom Neuwirth, won the 59th installment of the competition, held this year in Copenhagen, with a song titled “Rise Like a Phoenix,” which she performed early Sunday (May 11) as a bearded woman in a form-fitting gold dress.
The Eurovision contest draws well over 100 million viewers annually, and the contest has become a point of national pride in Russia, which began competing in the 1990s.
“The process of the legalization of that to which the Bible refers to as nothing less than an abomination is already long not news in the contemporary world,” Vladimir Legoyda, chairman of the church’s information department, told the Interfax news agency. “Unfortunately, the legal and cultural spheres are moving in a parallel direction, to which the results of this competition bear witness.”
Radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri has denied being involved in the 1998 abduction of 16 Western tourists in Yemen, telling a jury he acted as "a mouthpiece" for the kidnap group.
Giving evidence for a third day in New York, Abu Hamza said he had provided the kidnappers with a satellite phone but said he had not known of the plot.
Abu Hamza, 56, likened himself to Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams.
He denies 11 kidnapping and terror counts, including the 1998 abductions.
The Egyptian-born preacher was asked about his alleged involvement in the December 1998 abduction of 12 Britons, two Americans and two Australians in southern Yemen.
Four of the tourists were killed by the captors.