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article imageIran 'Happy' dancers 91 lashes - suspended (update)

By Tim Sandle     Sep 20, 2014 in Politics
Tehran - Six Iranians arrested for filming a video tribute to Pharrell Williams' song "Happy" have been given a suspended sentenced of 91 lashes and potential jail terms.
Back in May 2014, six Iranian fans got together like thousands of other young people around the world and made a tribute video to the catchy Pharrell Williams' song "Happy". Their video shows the three men and three unveiled women dancing to the song on the streets and rooftops of Tehran. They called their video "Happy we are from Tehran".
The video fell foul of the authorities in Iran and the six people were arrested. At the time, Police chief Hossein Sajedinia was quoted by the BBC as saying that the "vulgar clip" had "hurt public chastity." The primary charge was "violating Islamic laws of the country", specifically dancing with members of the opposite sex and women from appearing without a headscarf.
Now comes the news that the six young dancers have been found guilty and that a potentially harsh punishment has been delivered. The outcome was first reported, such as by Spin Magazine, that they had been sentenced to up to one year in prison and were receive 91 lashes.
It was later reported, by SBS, that the all sentences were suspended and will become null and void after three years. The lawyer representing the six, Farshid Rofugaran, has said.
“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."
While corporal punishment is practiced in Iran it is most often reserved for instances such as illicit sexual relations, making unproven accusations about illicit sex, or drinking intoxicants.
Amongst widespread condemnation of the decision, is Pharrell Williams himself. The Oscar nominated songwriter has protested at the arrests. Writing on Facebook, Williams said: "It is beyond sad that these kids were arrested for trying to spread happiness."
The "offending video" remains on YouTube, and can be seen below. In six months the video has received over one million views.
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