A defense lawyer in Iran says six young Iranian men and women videotaped dancing to Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” and the video’s director have been sentenced to suspended jail terms and lashes.
Lawyer Farshid Rofugaran said on Friday the seven have been sentenced to six months in jail and 91 lashes each, though the verdict won’t be carried out unless the defendants commit crimes and are found guilty in the future.
He says the suspended jail term is the punishment for acting in the video and the lashes are over ignoring Islamic norms.
He says one of the defendants also received another suspended sentence of six months over charges of possessing alcohol, which is banned in Iran.
The seven men and women were arrested in May but released soon afterward.
Seven young Iranians, whose video showing six of them dancing to the Pharrell Williams’ hit Happy went viral in May, have received suspended prison and lashing sentences, their lawyer said Friday.
The six – three men and three women – were sentenced to six months in prison and 91 lashes. The seventh, who produced the video, got a one-year sentence in addition to the lashings, the lawyer, Farshid Rofugaran, told Iran Wire on Friday.
Rofugaran said the sentences were suspended as long as they commit no more offenses against the Islamic Republic during the next three years.
The video, which was recorded on a smartphone and uploaded to YouTube, shows the six dancing and singing in a room, on rooftops and in an alley. It has been viewed more than 1.7 million times.
The Iranians, all described as around 25 years old, were jailed in May for helping make an “obscene video clip that offended the public morals and was released in cyberspace,” the Iranian Student News Agency reported Wednesday.
They were released on bail after appearing on state television to apologize, saying they were “tricked” into appearing in what they said was an audition video not intended for broadcast.
The report on Iranian TV shows them being lectured by a stern-faced Tehran police chief, who called the video a “vulgar clip that hurt public chastity.” He is also shown warning young Iranians not to be seduced by video filmmakers..
The Iranian video ends with a written note that says, “We have made this video as Pharrell Williams fans in 8hrs with iphone 5S,” the young Iranians say. “‘Happy’ was an excuse to be happy. We enjoyed every second of making it. Hope it puts a smile on your face.”
Their arrest quickly turned into a bigger public struggle between hard-liners and more moderate forces inside Iran over any attempt to loosen social conventions.
Even Iranian President Hassan Rouhani entered the fray at the time with a none-too-subtle tweet in which he quoted himself as saying last year: “#Happiness is our people’s right. We shouldn’t be too hard on behaviors caused by joy.”
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