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Iran Holds 'Happy' Video Director
May 22nd, 2014
04:10 AM ET

Iran Holds 'Happy' Video Director

ix 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!"

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Filed under: Free Happy Iranians • Happy
December 27th, 2013
06:04 AM ET

Beirut Blast 'Kills ex-Ambassador'

Mohamad Chatah, a former Lebanese minister of finance and ambassador to the United States, was killed Friday when a car bomb struck his convoy in downtown Beirut, Lebanon's National News Agency reported.

Four others were killed and 71 were wounded, Lebanon's health ministry said. Cars were burned beyond recognition as a wall of flames and thick black smoke shot up from the blast site.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Chatah's last tweet, posted about an hour before his death, talked about Hezbollah - the Lebanese-based Shiite militant group that Chatah was at odds with.

"#Hezbollah is pressing hard to be granted similar powers in security & foreign policy matters that Syria exercised in Lebanon for 15 yrs," Chatah tweeted.

Chatah was known as a staunch critic of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom he accused of meddling in Lebanon's internal affairs. Chatah also opposed Hezbollah, which has sent fighters to help al-Assad's forces in the Syrian civil war.

"A united and peaceful Syria ruled by Assad is simply not possible anymore. It has been like that for some time," Chatah wrote in his last blog post. "The status quo ante cannot be restored. Iran and Hezbollah realize this more than anyone else."

Chatah graduated from American University in Beirut and served as Lebanon's ambassador to the United States from 1997 to 1999, according to his blog.

He also served as a senior adviser for former Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Current Prime Minister Najib Mikati posted a tweet saying he is calling off his vacation and heading back to Lebanon.

"I condemn this assassination, which targeted a political, an academic, a moderate and an upscale figure who always believed in dialogue and the language of reason, logic and the right to have a different opinion" Mikati said.

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Filed under: World News