Iranians Arrested For 'Happy' Video Sentenced To Six Months In Jail And 91 Lashings
Back in May of this year, six Iranians were arrested for making a video of themselves dancing around the city of Tehran to Pharrell's irresistibly upbeat song "Happy."
The video was deemed to be offensive because men and women appeared together and the women were unveiled. The group was arrested, and the government forced them to apologize for the clip on state television. The nonprofit International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran explained that they were considered guilty for "participation in the making of a vulgar clip" and "illegitimate relations between members of the group."
Now, they have been formally charged for the crime. The Iran Wire reports that their punishment, which was issued on Wednesday (September 17), is six months in prison and 91 lashings. One member, assumed to be video's director, was given the increased sentence of a year in prison plus the lashings.
However, there is a catch: the sentence is a suspended one, which means as long as they don't commit a similar offense within the next three years, their punishments won't actually be carried out.
"A suspended sentence becomes null and void after a certain period of time,” the group's lawyer Farshid Rofugaran told Iran Wire. "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."
For his part, Pharrell was deeply saddened by the news. When he heard about their plight he commented on the situation via his Facebook page: "It is beyond sad that these kids were arrested for trying to spread happiness."
Here's the original video:
Rofugaran said he's not sure if his clients will accept the sentence or file an appeal.
"I will do what my clients want me to do. We are happy that both the prison sentences and the lashes are suspended."