Seven Iranians were sentenced to prison with lashings for dancing to Pharrell’s “Happy”

September 19, 2014

Remember when Pharrell staged a 24-hour dance party last year for the “Happy” video? It, at the time, seemed like a harmless publicity stunt—it was a way, one assumed, to get the world dancing together across time zones. Innocent enough, right? Not quite. Last spring, after a group of Iranian filmed themselves dancing to the song, they found themselves arrested: A group of women were filmed sans veils, and they were, at times, lightly touching the men in the video.

The video went viral on YouTube. And by Tehran’s standards, it was enough to lead to an arrest—the video was deemed illicit.

“After a vulgar clip which hurt public chastity was released in cyberspace,” Tehran police chief Hossein Sajedinia said at the time, “police decided to identify those involved in making that clip.”

The video’s maker were lured by authorities in an even more devious way: Police allegedly lured the video’s makers by telling them that a friend had been seriously injured. Next, they were asked to film a confession, which was aired on national television.

Here’s the clip that got the Iranian kids in trouble.

Now, we’ve learned their punishment: According to IranWire, the seven kids in the video were sentenced to jail time with lashings. Six were sentenced to six months and 91 lashings; its director was sentenced to a year in prison with 91 lashings.

Still, there’s good news here: the Happy Seven’s lawyer, Farshid Rofugaran, says their sentences have been suspended for three years. If they don’t re-offend within that period, they won’t receive their punishments. To us, that’s a good thing.

“A suspended sentence becomes null and void after a certain period of time,” said their lawyer. “When it’s a suspended sentence, the verdict is not carried out, but if during this period a similar offense is committed, then the accused is subject to legal punishment and the suspended sentence will then be carried out as well.” [HT: Spin]

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