The Telegraph reports that six Iranian singers who were arrested for appearing in a viral video dancing to the Pharrell Williams song “Happy” have been sentenced to six months in prison and 91 lashes. The video appears to have received well over a million views at this point. Oliver Duggan writes:
The group became famous in May when their music video for the hit song circulated on YouTube, racking up more than 150,000 views before attracting the attention of Iranian authorities.
It featured three men and three unveiled women singing and dancing along to the four minute song in the street and rooftops of Tehran, mimicking the style of Pharrell’s official video.
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.
The director of the video was handed a suspended sentence of one year, while the whole group was told they would receive 91 lashes each.
Duggan also reports that the six have previously “confessed,” as featured on Iranian state television:
Speaking shortly after the group’s initial arrest, the brother of one of the video’s star told The Telegraph that their confessions on state television were “outrageous.”
Siavash Taravati, who lives in the US, said: “The IRIB’s (Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting) action in showing the “confession” of my sister and her friends…is just outrageous.
“Apparently they first arrest people without any charge or civil right to defend themselves, then interrogate them and then make them confess and finally broadcast their show.”
Duggan quotes Pharrell Williams commenting via Twitter this past May: “It’s beyond sad these kids were arrested for trying to spread happiness.” The late singer/songwriter Tim Buckley had an album he titled Happy Sad. That doesn’t quite cover this situation, but it’s getting there. The video is below.
At FOX News, Lisa Daftari combines the video story with another piece of Iranian justice showing that the singers could have met a worse fate if they had been found guilty of “insulting the Prophet.” Daftari reports that an Iranian blogger found guilty of the offense will receive “the ultimate penalty.”