Iran releases Pharrell Williams fans held over video for 'Happy'

Singer responded to arrests on Facebook saying it's 'beyond sad'

Iran releases Pharrell Williams fans held over video for 'Happy'

Photo: Getty

The group of young Iranians arrested and detained for appearing in an online version of Pharrell Williams' hit song 'Happy' have been released.

The original 'Happy' video has been viewed almost 250million times on YouTube, inspiring people all over the world to make their own versions. On Tuesday, Iran's state-run national TV broadcast a programme showing men and women, apparently Pharrell fans from Tehran, confessing on camera to taking part in one.

Human rights activists have repeatedly condemned what they see as the state TV's history of airing confessions made under duress, usually misrepresented as interviews, and following reaction from Iran's president Hassan Rouhani, those held have now been released.

Reihane Taravati, one of at least six people detained after uploading a video showing them dancing and singing to the song, said on a social networking site that she had been released. Taravati and her friends were believed to have been released after lodging a large bail sum with the authorities, but it was not clear if they might later be put on trial.

On Tuesday night, Williams reacted to the news of the arrests on Facebook by saying: "It is beyond sad that these kids were arrested for trying to spread happiness."

Expressing gratitude for his support while they were in custody, Taravati posted on Instagram: "Hi I'm back thank you @pharrell and everyone who cared about us love you all so much and missed you so much." Another fan, Afshin Sohrabi, was also reportedly released, but some reports said the video's director, who has not been named, is still being detained.


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