Iran cracks down on contentious pop music video with arrests

US porn star pop video sparks arrests in Iran: Music producers linked to singer who danced alongside Alexis Texas are rounded up following public outcry

  • Sasy, 32, released music video for his song ‘Tehran Tokyo’ featuring Alexis Texas
  • Texas begins the video wearing conservative clothing including a headscarf
  • She proceeds to take it off and show revealing black costume as she dances
  • Hardliners fear young people will easily be able to search earlier work online  
  • Security forces detained music arrangers Mohsen and Behrouz Manouchehri
  • They face prosecution by criminal court in Tehran, Sasy’s manager confirmed

Music producers connected to a California-based Iranian pop singer have been arrested following outcry over a pop video featuring a porn star.

Singer Sasy, 32, whose real name is Sasan Yafteh, released a music video for his song ‘Tehran Tokyo’ featuring adult film actress Alexis Texas.  

Texas begins the video wearing conservative clothing including a headscarf, but proceeds to take it off and show off a revealing black costume as she dances with Sasy.  

While there is no explicit content in the video itself, hardliners fear that young people will easily be able to search out her earlier work online – with the video dubbed ‘more dangerous than polio’ because of how rapidly it spread. 

And now, Iranian security forces have detained music arrangers and brothers Mohsen and Behrouz Manouchehri who worked on the song in the southern city of Shiraz, Sasy’s manager Farshid Rafe Rafahi has revealed.

The Manouchehri brothers now face prosecution by a criminal court in Tehran.

Music producers connected to California-based Iranian pop singer Sasy have been arrested following outcry over a pop video featuring a porn star. Singer Sasy, 32, whose real name is Sasan Yafteh, released a music video for his song ‘Tehran Tokyo’ featuring adult film actress Alexis Texas (pictured together in the video)

Iranian pop singer Sasy and US porn star Alexis Texas in a video which has caused outrage in the Islamic republic 

Reacting to the arrest, Mr Rafahi – the CEO of Los Angeles-based EMH Productions – said of the video: ‘It’s pretty crazy, [Alexis Texas is] just dancing like any person in any ordinary music video, she’s not doing anything inappropriate in these scenes.’

‘Sasy’s mission isn’t to create havoc, it’s to make people happy.’ 

Over the years, Sasy has become known for contentious lyrics that Iranian conservatives see as tainting the country’s moralilty. 

In a previous song, also featuring a porn actress, he instructed teenagers to take alcohol shots if they can’t fall asleep and to scroll through Instagram instead of finishing their homework.

The video for ‘Tehran Tokyo’ has racked up 18 million views in a week. 

Alexis Texas is wearing a headscarf and a conservative overcoat at the start of the video, but takes it off to show off a revealing black outfit 

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

The Fars news agency – believed to be close to Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard – also accused the music producers in Iran of running gambling websites at Sasy’s request. 

Rafahi said the gambling accusations stemmed from a misunderstanding, given that a poker website helped sponsor the music video.

Sasy 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’, reports claim.

While hardliners consider the song a Western assault on Islamic teachings, thousands in the country have rallied in support of it.

In Iran – where the Government retains tight controls over traditional media like newspapers and television – authorities have used courts to patrol social media platforms beyond their reach. 

Even so, scores of young listeners posted videos on social media lip-syncing, dancing and striking poses to ‘Tehran Tokyo’ in their living rooms, kitchens and workplaces. 

In the clips, many Iranian women wear bright lipstick and few cover their hair.

Alexis Texas dancing with Sasy, real name Sasan Yafteh, who left Iran in 2009 and is now based in California, but is popular among teenagers in Iran

Iranian semi-official news agencies reported that those who ‘cooperated with Sasy’ would would face ‘decisive judicial action.’ 

It remains uncertain whether police also detained any of the lip-syncing fans. 

Last week, it was reported that an online app which published an excerpt from the music video is under investigation by officials.

Sasy’s videos are not authorised in Iran although many of them are nonetheless shared via social media such as Instagram and WhatsApp. 

Although some have called for tougher online censorship, others argue that restrictions are having the opposite effect because so many people are familiar with evading them through VPNs and anti-filtering software. 

‘Because of the filtering they all have access to anti-filtering software,’ said journalist Emily Amraee as she voiced fears that children would seek out Alexis Texas’s work.

‘Parenting control software is not available here…This song is really more dangerous than polio.’  

The video has raised that young people will easily be able to search out more explicit work by Alexis Texas (pictured) 

The Iranian government has long blocked access to many websites and social media platforms, from YouTube and Facebook to Twitter and Telegram. 

But the excerpt from the video called ‘Tehran Tokyo’ was published on an app called Rubika which has now come under investigation by officials, reports say.  

Broadcasting regulator SATRA this week banned the clip and sued Rubika for publishing the clip online, according to Iran International.  

It comes after many Iranians criticised the app for distributing the video because of its perceived negative impact on young people. 

Hard-liners in the government have long viewed social messaging and media services as part of ‘soft war’ by the West against the Islamic republic. 

Sasy’s work previously came under scrutiny in 2019 when a video of schoolchildren dancing to one of his songs was described as ‘disturbing’ by an education minister.

One member of parliament called for the schoolchildren’s teachers to be fired and pressured government officials to intervene, according to a human rights group.  

On another occasion Sasy was reportedly arrested on an Iranian holiday island for ‘disrupting public peace’ after staging public performances at a shopping centre. 

In 2009 he was involved in a political campaign when he made a campaign song for former parliament speaker Mehdi Karoubi during a presidential election.   

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