Just days after Iran’s president denounced Internet censorship as “cowardly,” six young Iranians were arrested and forced to repent on state television Tuesday for the grievous offense of proclaiming themselves to be “Happy in Tehran,” in a homemade music video they posted on YouTube last month.
By uploading their video, recorded on an iPhone and promoted on Facebook and Instagram, the 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.
“Happy in Tehran” was viewed more than 165,000 times on YouTube before it attracted the attention of the police and was made private.
—Robert Mackey. We are now entirely justified in paraphrasing Mencken; theocratic government in Iran is defined by the haunting fear that Iranians, somewhere, may be happy.