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Court Sentences Iranian ‘Happy’ Video Stars to Jail, Lashes

On Wednesday, Tehran’s legal authorities sentenced the six stars of a lip-synced dance video cover of Pharrell William’s song “Happy” to jail time and 91 lashes each.

The Telegraph reports:

Authorities arrested the group for contravening Iran’s strict vulgarity laws, which prohibit public displays of dancing, and paraded the six on state television, forcing them to express remorse for their behaviour.

The Islamic Republic condemned the video as a “vulgar clip which hurt public chastity” and in a trial on Wednesday sentenced the participants to a suspended sentence of six months in prison. …

Pharrell Williams responded to Iran’s actions on his Twitter account in May, saying: “It’s beyond sad these kids were arrested for trying to spread happiness.”

The director of the video was sentenced to one year in jail.

The group’s lawyer explained that a suspended sentence means “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.” But the lawyer cautioned that he has not received official notification that the sentences were suspended.

At the time of their arrest in May, national TV channel IRIB broadcast a report featuring a member of the security forces who condemned the short film and spoke of the arrests of its stars. The National Interest observed at the time:

Many had noted the risks taken in the original video—women without veils (though wearing wigs), men and women dancing together. And while the Rouhani administration has tried to strike a conciliatory tone on the culture front, full openness has not been forthcoming. A very active band of conservative agitators has been busy pushing against any sign of change.

Under President Hassan Rouhani, Iran continues to enforce conformity with strict religious norms. In June, Iran arrested three people who appeared in a video celebrating the country’s World Cup team. In May, an Iranian actress, Leila Hatami, apologized after being threatened with flogging for having kissed the president of the Cannes film festival.

[Photo: Sharolin Esani / YouTube ]