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'Happy' video dancers, but not director, freed in Iran, group says

(CNN) -- Six people who were arrested in Iran for dancing in a YouTube video to Pharrell Williams' song "Happy" have been freed, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said Wednesday, citing a source close to the families.

The director of the video was not released, the group said.

One of the six announced that she was freed. "Hi I'm back," Reihane Taravati wrote on her Instagram account, thanking Williams and "everyone who cared about us."

 

The fan video is one of many to the hit song that has sold millions of downloads worldwide.

Tehran Police Chief Hossein Sajedinia ordered the arrests of the three men and three women for helping make an "obscene video clip that offended the public morals and was released in cyberspace," the Iranian Students' News Agency reported Wednesday. Authorities forced the young people to repent on state TV.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani seemed to think differently. "#Happiness is our people's right. We shouldn't be too hard on behaviors caused by joy," a tweet on his account said. It seemed to be quoting one of his comments from June 2013.

Pharrell Williams denounced the arrests.

"It is beyond sad that these kids were arrested for trying to spread happiness," the Grammy Award winner said on his Facebook page.

Just like in the singer's original video, the Iranian fan version features a montage of men and women dancing to the song in a variety of settings.

Taravati gushed over the reaction to the video in the days before the Tuesday arrests.

"178K VIEWS thank you," she wrote on her Facebook page last week. She also posted a picture of people featured in the video on Instagram.

"People of Tehran are happy! Watch and Share Our Happiness!," Taravati wrote. "Let the world hear us! we are happy and we deserve to be!"

Arrests come amid support for photo project

The arrests come amid growing support on Facebook for an unrelated project featuring photographs submitted by women who appear without Iran's legally required head scarves.

The page, created May 3, has more than 300,000 likes.

"This is the voice of Iranian women who have been censored all their lives in Iran," London-based journalist Masih Alinejad, who created the page, told HLN, CNN's sister network. "And now social media is giving them the opportunity to speak out, to be themselves."

Conversely, Iranian officials and some journalists denounced an Iranian actress who extended her hand in greeting to a film festival executive and received a kiss on the cheek from him, according to media reports.

The BBC reported that a conservative journalism organization run by Iran's state broadcaster said actress Leila Hatami engaged in "unconventional and improper" behavior by extending her hand to Cannes Film Festival president Gilles Jacob.

For his part, Jacob dismissed the controversy over kissing Hatami on the cheek.

He said on Twitter that she represented "all Iranian cinema" and called the uproar over the kiss needless controversy "over a usual custom in the West."

Source: CNN

Tags: #Iran, #RegionalReport

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