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Provocative music video leads to arrests in Iran

Iran has arrested two music producers for working on Sasan Heidari Yafteh's new music video, "Tehran Tokyo."

Iran has arrested two music producers accused of working with a US-based Iranian pop singer whose risqué music video has caused outrage in the conservative Middle East country, the Associated Press reports. 

In the music video for his song “Tehran Tokyo," Sasan Heidari Yafteh, also known as Sasy, is shown dancing with popular American porn actress Alexis Texas and other scantily dressed backup dancers. 

The music video, clips of which were teased earlier this month before its full release on Wednesday, includes no nudity or graphic sexual content. But critics in Iran worry the video could prompt young viewers to seek out Texas’ other work. 

Iranian journalist and writer Emily Amraee called the song “more dangerous than polio.” 

“Because of the [state] filtering, all of them have access to anti-filtering software and parental controls are not available here,” she tweeted. 

Just before the video went live on Wednesday, Iranian authorities reportedly raided the studio of music producers Mohsen and Behrouz Manouchehri, Sasy’s Los Angeles-based manager, Farshid Rafe Rafahi, told the Associated Press. The two brothers, both of whom worked on Sasy’s music video, face criminal prosecution in Tehran, Rafahi added.

Iranian app Rubika is also being investigated by Iran’s regulatory body for publishing a clip from the video. 

Sasy is hugely popular in Iran despite bans on his music. The 32-year-old spent years performing underground in Iran before leaving the country in 2009 for the United States, where he is now a permanent resident. 

His controversial lyrics and music videos have repeatedly drawn the ire of Iran’s authorities. Another recent music video drew heavy criticism for featuring a different adult film star and encouraging teens to drink alcohol. 

Social media platforms including Instagram, Facebook and YouTube are blocked in the country, but many of Sasy’s fans access his music using virtual private networks.

In 2019, Iran announced it was investigating “disturbing” social media showing schoolchildren dancing to Sasy’s hit song “Gentleman.” A group of seven Iranians were sentenced to prison for six months after a video of them dancing to Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy” went viral in 2014.