Friday, September 19, 2014

Jail Time And Lashes For Iranians Dancing To Pharrell's "Happy"

Remember those seven young Iranians (including several unveiled women) who were arrested for offending "public chastity" by dancing to Pharrell's hit song "Happy" back in May? Six of the dancers were just sentenced to 91 lashes and 6 months in jail, while the director was sentenced to 91 lashes and a year in jail.

The arrest of the six dancers and one director sparked the hashtag #FreeHappyIranians, and the following day hashtag creator Kambiz Hosseini tweeted that all but the director had been released.

IranWire reported on Wednesday, however, that the six dancers in the video have been sentenced to six months in prison and 91 lashes, while the director has been sentenced to one year in prison and 91 lashes.

Farshid Rofugaran, the group's lawyer, told IranWire that the sentences have already been suspended, but that he could not be sure of group's fate until he received official notification. Rofugaran said:

“A suspended sentence becomes null and void after a certain period of time. 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.”
Though the sentences have been suspended, they have three long years to not make any waves. How nice to live in fear that one wrong move might land you in jail again, along with 91 lashes.

Apparently, the group was not treated well during their incarceration, especially the women.

Shortly after their release three days after being arrested, members of the group spoke out on their harsh treatment while in prison. IranWire reported that a source close to the group said they were interrogated and not permitted to use toilet facilities. The women in the group were also reportedly forced to strip naked and perform squats in front of female guards.

Pharrell had this to say:

"It is beyond sad that these kids were arrested for trying to spread happiness."
Video and more on Huffpo.

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