Arrests as Iran cracks down on music video

Iranian authorities have arrested music producers connected to a California-based Iranian pop singer in Tehran’s latest effort to halt what it deems decadent Western behaviour.

The arrests come as Iranian social media has been awash with criticism of popular underground Iranian singer Sasy, or Sasan Heidari Yafteh’s, new music video. Tehran Tokyo features actresses, including an American porn star, gyrating atop cars and inside bars. The clip racked up 18 million views within a week.

Hours before the video went live on Wednesday, Iranian security forces detained two popular music arrangers who worked on the song in Shiraz and raided their studio, said Sasy’s manager, Farshid Rafe Rafahi, the chief executive of Los Angeles-based EMH Productions.

The brothers, Mohsen and Behrouz Manouchehri, face criminal prosecution in Tehran.

A week ago, the song’s teaser, featuring porn performer Alexis Texas, fuelled such public consternation that authorities pledged to investigate the app that carried the video. Soon, Iran’s morals authorities cracked down on those associated with publicising or producing the clip.

“It’s pretty crazy, she’s just dancing like any person in any ordinary music video, she’s not doing anything inappropriate in these scenes,” said Rafahi, referring to Alexis Texas. “Sasy’s mission isn’t to create havoc, it’s to make people happy.”

Semi-official news agencies in Iran confirmed several arrests on Wednesday, alleging Sasy’s associates in Iran had produced music “contrary to culture”.

Sasy, who is known for contentious Farsi lyrics, is now a permanent resident of the US and has lived in exile since leaving his career as a successful underground rapper in Iran in 2009. Since the video came out, Iran has promised to “pursue his case with international legal authorities”, according to the Fars news agency.

While hardliners consider the song a Western assault on Islamic teachings, thousands in the country are of a different mind. Scores of teenagers and twenty-somethings posted videos on social media lip-syncing, dancing and striking poses to Tehran Tokyo in their homes and workplaces.

Iranian news agencies reported those who “co-operated with Sasy” would face “decisive judicial action”. It remains uncertain whether police also detained any of the lip-syncing fans.

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