|After the exiled Iranian rapper and rock guitarist Shahin Najafi released a controversial song entitled ‘Imam Naghi’, an Iranian cleric issued a death sentence (fatwa) against him, a news site in the country started a campaign calling for his assassination, and a religious site issued a reward for killing the Iranian musician.
The song ‘Imam Naghi’ is an a cappella rap song which refers extensively to the Tenth Imam, one of the twelve imams that play an important role in the religion of the Shia Muslims in Iran. Shahin Najafi’s song contains a satirical dialogue with this imam and critisises the socio-political development in Iran.
In an interview with the German radio station WDR Funkhaus Europa, Shahin Najafi explained that he cannot see why the song is believed to be offensive to Imam Naghi, the tenth Imam:
“The song refers to an ironical Facebook campaign reminding Shia Muslims of Imam Naghi in 2011. This iman is part of the Shia mythology, but he doesn’t play an important role. The campaign gave me the inspiration. My lyrics call on the imam to return to life and end Iran’s apocalyptic conditions. The lyrics are provocative, but there is no verse, not a single word that insults the religion. I tell him he should not hesitate to do away with the many misfeatures in the country: with oppression and sexual violence, with the trend of cosmetic surgery, and with imported cheap goods from China that are flooding the Iranian market.”
Shahin Najafi, who is very popular among Iranians for his eclectic style, high quality productions and progressive views, is now staying at a secret place in Germany. According to Fars News, a conservative Iranian news agency, a campaign calling for his execution was launched by the religious website Shia-online, which set a 100,000 US dollars reward for killing the Iranian musician.
The news website Asr Iran, which is closely tied to the regime in Tehran, launched an online campaign calling for the hanging of 31-year-old Shahin Najafi. The website stated that the aim of the campaign was to have Najafi condemned for blasphemy, a crime that carries the death penalty in Iran.
The campaign organisers called on all Shi’ites and Muslims in general to find and kill Najafi and “send him to hell,” according to the website.
This happened after a Shia cleric based in the Iranian city of Qom, Ayatollah Safi Golpayegani, issued a death sentence against Shahin Najafi for apostasy, the Persian-language Al Arabiya website reported on 9 May 2012.
Al Arabiya dubbed Shahin Najafi as “Salman Rushdie of music”.
Shahin Najafi takes the threats very seriously. He has cancelled his coming European tour and is in despair about the situation.
The ‘Iranian Eminem’
Shahin Najafi formed a new rock band, Antikarisma, in January 2010. It consists of four Iranian based in Germany. He has also worked with music groups such as Rapknot Group and Ghogha.
Before 2005, when he was based in Iran, Shahin Najafi worked as an underground artist, and was banned by the authorities from performing in the country. In Iran, his songs and albums are either bought on the black market or downloaded from the Internet. His songs mostly deal with issues such as theocracy, poverty, sexism, censorship, child labour, execution and drug addiction. Many regard him as the ‘Iranian Eminem’. Especially because of his anti-Islamic texts, Shahin Najafi has long been on the top of the dissident blacklist in Iran.
Interview with Shahin Najafi
– 24 October 2012:
Iranian musician responds upright to death threats
Latest news on this topic
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Search: “Shahin Najafi”
Al Arabiya – 9 May 2012:
‘The Salman Rushdie of music? Iran calls for killing of ‘apostate’ rap artist’
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|More information and videos
NRK – 18 May 2012:
‘Det er vanvittig’
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty – 12 May 2012:
‘Iranian Rapper Faces Calls For His Execution Over ‘Insulting’ Song’