Iran’s ‘Happy’ video dancers get suspended sentences, lashes

by

Six Iranians arrested for appearing in a video singing along to the American pop song “Happy” were given suspended sentences of 91 lashes and six months in prison, a local news bulletin has said. The six have been accused of “obscene behaviour”.

The Iran Wire site quoted their lawyers as saying another defendant who faced tougher charges in relation to the video has been given a suspended prison term of one year and 91 lashes.

The lawyer said the sentences are suspended for three years, meaning that if any of the seven is found guilty of a similar offence, the punishment is then carried out.

The video shows three men and three women, all without the hijab or headscarf worn by Muslim women, dancing on the streets and rooftops of the capital Tehran. In just six months, one million people have watched it on the video-sharing website YouTube.

The defendants were detained by police in May for violating Iran’s Islamic dress code, which was enforced after the 1979 Islamic revolution and prohibits women from appearing without a headscarf.

The sentences drew a strong condemnation from international rights groups, including Amnesty International, which lamented the rulings as a “ludicrous outcome” for making a music video celebrating happiness.

“With these sentences, the absurd meets the unjust,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa programme.