Police in Iran have arrested six young people and shown them on state television for posting a video online of them dancing to Pharrell Williams’ hit song Happy.
The song has sparked similar videos all over the world. But in Iran, some see the trend as promoting the spread of Western culture.
And women are banned from dancing in public or appearing outside without the hijab in the Islamic Republic. The young people claimed they had been encouraged to perform by a film producer who wanted to make a movie, and that he, not they, posted the short clip online.
Tehran police chief Hossein Sajedinia confirmed on state television late on Tuesday that the three men and three women were detained over the video.
State television also aired pictures of the video with the women’s faces blurred and then showed the six with their backs turned to camera.
On Twitter, Williams himself said: “It’s beyond sad these kids were arrested for trying to spread happiness.”
Wellthisiswhatithink says: Once again, the authorities in Tehran show themselves absolutely tone deaf to what will make them look idiotic in the wider world.
Our view? In essence, the young people of Iran will not tolerate these restrictions on their freedom much longer. And an increasingly urbane and west-facing leadership in Iran will bend rather than break and lose power in another popular rebellion.
Iran is unquestionably the most influential anti-Western state in the eternally fractious Middle East. And the current Western stance on Iran boils down to, in effect, widespread sanctions and continual sabre-rattling. But all stick and no carrot only ever serves to create obduracy and stubborn resistance.
We are no apologists for a government that has been brutally cruel and treated civil rights with contempt, let alone fomented terrorist acts elsewhere and made the Syrian conflict even worse than it was going to be anyway. But if we do not seek to befriend – at least to establish mutual respect and courteous dialogue – towards the new regime in Tehran then others – notably the Chinese and new assertive Russians – will. At this point in time, we should be doing everything we can to engage the current Iranian leadership and bring the pariah state in from the cold. Perhaps the Obama team are actively engaged behind the scenes, perhaps not, but we frankly do not see the type of will-power and dramatic seizing of the day that was evidenced by Gorbachev and Reagan, for example, or Nixon going to China. Obama in Tehran? We’d like to see that.
As Churchill once remarked, jaw-jaw is always better than war-war.