TEHRAN – An Iranian court Thursday sentenced six young Iranians to receive lashes and prison terms for having danced in a fan video to the tune of Pharrell Williams’ hit song “Happy,” the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said.
The U.S.-based NGO’s website says the court charged the six young people of “taking part in the production of a vulgar video” and having “illicit relations” among themselves.
The court sentenced them to six months in jail and 91 lashes each, except for one the defendants, Reyhaneh Taravati, who was sentenced to a year in prison.
The group was arrested last May after the video, considered provocative by the moral standards of the Islamic Republic, went viral on the Internet.
In the video, the six appear cheerfully singing the song of the popular American R&B singer on terraces, in the streets of Tehran and inside a house.
The girls do not wear a head scarf in the video, although Iranian law mandates women to cover their hair and refrain from wearing revealing blouses. They are required to wear clothing that covers their figure, buttocks, thighs and legs.
In addition, the video shows young women and men dancing together, a strict violation of the code of Islamic behavior that the Iranian authorities are attempting to apply in the country, especially in regards to the public sphere.
A day after being arrested, the six young people were released on bail pending trial.
Police confiscated the defendants’ cell phones, computers and other personal items.
The youths were paraded on state television to declare their repentance for having participated in the recording, assuring that they had been deceived.
Iranian police chief Hoseyn Sayedinia warned those who intend to make similar videos that they will be identified and brought to justice.
The arrest of the group came after their video went viral on Youtube, which is banned in the country and is only accessible through anti-filter programs.