Seven Iranians were arrested in May for appearing in a YouTube clip in which boys and girls danced on the streets to Pharrell Williams’ Oscar-nominated song “Happy.”
Although they were reportedly released on bail after days of interrogation, it's now revealed that an Iranian court sentenced five of them to six months in prison and 91 lashes each, according to the local and independent English-language site Iran Wire.
Shortly after their arrest, the detainees – three men and four women – were forced to “repent” on state television for their involvement in what Iranian authorities called a “vulgar clip" that had "hurt public chastity."
Their “confession” is in the video below:
Their prison sentence is suspended for three years, which means the six will not be sent to jail unless they are found guilty of a similar offense. After three years, their sentence will become "null and void," according to their lawyer Farshid Rofugaran.
Human rights activists have condemned the court ruling – which has set off a scorching round of criticism, especially targeted towards Iranian President Hassan Rouhani who tweeted in May that “happiness is our people's right,” a few days after the seven people were detained.
"#Happiness is our people's right. We shouldn't be too hard on behaviors caused by joy." 29/6/2013— Hassan Rouhani (@HassanRouhani) May 21, 2014
Music and dancing is not prohibited or illegal in Iran. However, in some parts of the video, such as women dancing with men without covering their heads, go completely against the Islamic code of conduct which can explain – of course, not justify – why the arrests were made.
A similar case of arrests emerged during FIFA World Cup in June this year when two people were reportedly taken into custody for singing and dancing in the music video for the song “Gole Iran” dedicated to the Iranian soccer team for the grand soccer tournament.
You can watch and read more about the “Happy Iranians” video here.