Mixed messages, Iranian edition

The NY Times has a sad piece on a group of young people in the capital that were arrested for being too happy.  I hadn’t heard of this phenomena (probably because I’m old!), but apparently the arrested group “was taking part in a global online phenomenon, which has resulted, so far, in hundreds of cover versions of the Pharrell Williams song “Happy” recorded in more than 140 countries.”

The saddest line of the piece is that part of the motivation behind the group’s video was “promotional, to tell the world that Iran is a better place than what they think it is.”

Sadly, the judiciary confirmed much of what the outside world thinks about Iran.  You can’t blame them for being confused though, since the government and judiciary seem completely split on the issue of Internet censorship.  Iran’s president has recently denounced it, calling it “cowardly.”  I don’t understand all the references in his full quote, but you get the gist:

“We must recognize our citizens’ right to connect to the World Wide Web,” the president said, according the official IRNA news agency. “Why are we so shaky? Why have we cowered in a corner, grabbing onto a shield and a wooden sword, lest we take a bullet in this culture war?” he asked. 

So what was the grievous offense of these young people?  According to the authorities, the dancing was “vulgar and   hurt public chastity.” (I didn’t even know chastity could be applied to the public in general).


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