RELIGION
09/18/2014 12:11 pm ET Updated Sep 18, 2014

Young Iranians Sentenced To Lashes, Jail Time For Dancing In 'Happy' Pharrell Video

Seven young Iranian men and women have been sentenced to jail time and 91 lashes for the crime of being "Happy" and letting the world know.

The group posted a video of themselves dancing with woman unveiled to the Pharrell hit "Happy" in April which led to their arrest in May for offending "public chastity."

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.”

IranWire reports that the time period for the Happy group's sentence suspension will be three years.

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.

"It is beyond sad that these kids were arrested for trying to spread happiness," Pharrell said on his Facebook page.

Neda, one of the video's stars, told IranWire prior to the group's arrest that despite the joyous appearance of the video she was frightened throughout much of the filming.

“We were really afraid,” Neda said. “Whenever somebody looked out of a window or someone passed by, we ducked behind a door to make sure we were not seen.”

Rofugaran said the group may try to appeal the court's decision.

“I will do what my clients want me to do," Rofugaran told IranWire. "We are happy that both the prison sentences and the lashes are suspended.”

Follow the #FreeHappyIranians hashtag here:
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