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Iran's 'Happy' Dancers Receive Suspended Sentences

An Iranian version of "Happy" by Pharrell Williams.

YouTube

Seven young Iranians arrested in May on obscenity charges for producing their own video version of Pharrell Williams' hit song "Happy" have been sentenced to 91 lashes and up to a year in jail, although the punishment has been suspended providing they don't re-offend.

The director, plus the video's six men and women actors, were detained after their video, called "Happy We Are from Tehran" went viral on YouTube, although they were released soon afterward. As NPR's Greg Myre wrote at the time of the arrests:

"While completely innocuous by Western standards, the video includes three men dancing with three women. The women are wearing pants instead of a loose-fitting robe and do not have the mandatory veil to cover their hair."

Tehran's police chief accused the group of making an obscene video that offended public morals.

At the time, singer/songwriter Williams denounced the arrests:

Even Iranian President Hassan Rouhani appeared to side with the dancers, tweeting that happiness "is our people's right.

"We shouldn't be too hard on behaviors caused by joy," he wrote on Twitter back in May.

The Associated Press quotes the group's lawyer, Farshid Rofugaran, as saying Friday that the seven had been sentenced to six months in jail for acting in the video and 91 lashes for "ignoring Islamic norms." Rofugaran says one of the defendants received an additional six months for possession of alcohol, which is illegal in Iran.

According to the AP, Rofugaran said the sentences would be suspended as long as the defendants didn't commit any more crimes in the future.

[Note: An earlier version of this story omitted the fact that the video's director was also arrested and sentenced.]