Iranian rapper faces death threats, bounty over song
The bounty for the killing of rapper Shahin Najafi appear on the website shia-online.ir.
May 15th, 2012
01:16 PM ET

Iranian rapper faces death threats, bounty over song

An Iranian rapper is facing death threats and has a $100,000 bounty on his head for a song that some say insults an Islamic Shiite imam.

Shahin Najafi, who sings in Farsi and lives in Germany, told the German website Qantara that the song "Naghi" is not about a religious figure but about the state of society in Iran.

"The story with 'Naghi' was just a pretext," Najafi said in an interview with Qantara, which the German Foreign Office funds to promote dialogue with the Islamic world.

"For me it is more of an excuse to talk about completely different things. I criticize Iranian society in the song. It seems as though people are just concentrating on the word 'imam,' " Najafi is quoted as saying.

Religious figures in Iran see it differently.

"Following the affront by rap singer Shahin Najafi against Imam Hadi (7th Imam of Shias) in a song called 'Naghi', his apostasy sentence has been issued by Ayatollah Safi Golpayegani," Iran's official Fars News Agency said in a website posting in Farsi.

Golpayegani is a grand ayatollah, which means the highest- ranking authority in Shiite Islam after prophets and imams. Being an apostate, or someone who forsakes Islam, is punishable by death under Iranian law.

"If the song contains any insults or indecency towards Imam Naghi, then it is blasphemy, and God knows what to do," Golpayegani, a 92-year-old Iranian cleric, is quoted as saying by Qantara.

A post on the blog entegham says Najafi should be sentenced to death.

"According to article 513 of Islam’s penal code: Anyone who insults the sanctity of Islam, anyone of the great prophets, the Imams, and Sadigheh Tahereh (the prophet’s daughter) should be executed," the post says.

The Iranian website Shia-Online.ir is offering $100,000 to anyone who kills Najafi. The money is being put up by "a philanthropist" in a Persian Gulf state, the website says.

In a blog post on Najafi, The Guardian in the UK calls Najafi "the Salman Rushdie of music," a reference to the author of "The Satanic Verses," who was given a religious death sentence by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1989 after Khomeini said Rushie's book was blasphemous.

But writing in the state-run newspaper Kayhan, columnist Sadollah Zarei says Najafi's case is different from Rushdie's, according to a New York Times report.

"This fatwa does not represent the government of Iran,” Zarei is quoted as saying. “This is done by a religious group in our society.”

Nevertheless, Najafi told Qantara he has taken "precautionary measures."

"We do, after all, live in a country where there are rules and procedures for such predicaments. So there is nothing to worry about," he told Qantara.

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Filed under: Germany • Iran
soundoff (341 Responses)
  1. monetz

    this song was difficult to listen to, made me tired.

    May 16, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. toadaly

    If someone ever puts a price on my head, I'm putting a bullet through theirs before they have a chance to pay.

    May 16, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. nameuser247

    Americans threaten negative video critics at youtube with death, calling their idols Gods..........same difference

    May 16, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. MazeAndBlue

    No freedom of speech in Iran. Damn, glad I live in the good old US of A.

    May 16, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  5. viaquest

    are we completly sure the bounty is for the content of the "music" and not the quality ?

    May 16, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  6. William adamsen

    No freedom is needed for all kinds of exploitations, especially where the leaders are uneducated and well bearded , and willing to fall from room at the top to nearly seven feet into the ground like Ayatolla Khomenei after the iron lady spoke about bombing Teheran.

    May 16, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. emily jo

    he's kinda hot

    May 16, 2012 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. b

    that is one screwed up country

    May 16, 2012 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
  9. El Lobo

    Man made creations used to terrorize and enslave humanity while monopolizing power and profit. The extent to which humanity ignores empirical evidence and instead believes in fairy tales is truely disturbing. We have doomed our species with religions.

    May 16, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dan Jones

    And some people want to complain about Israel. If a Jewish rapper insulted every Rabbi, called Netanyahu's mother a pig, and made fun of Jewish cuisine he would be able to still walk down the streets and to most he would be greatly entertaining.

    May 16, 2012 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. krehator

    It's what God wants. LOL. Muslim extremists crack me up.

    May 17, 2012 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
  12. krehator

    "Being an apostate, or someone who forsakes Islam, is punishable by death under Iranian law."

    Yep, that is the peaceful and loving religion they keep trying to tell us about.....

    May 17, 2012 at 12:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Andrea

      Actually, that is not an ISLAM law... it is the law of Iran, a country, whose people happen to be Muslim. Do not confuse the two. Every country tries to use religion to mask their own governmental decisions, even if the two are separate. Take the US for example and the issue of Gay Marriage.

      For this particular issue, the Iranian government, who want to continue to have power and control, have not provided freedom of speech to their citizens. Therefore, this particular law is set for that particular reason and why the Iranian government wants this rapper dead. It has nothing to do with Islam.

      May 17, 2012 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
  13. Leffir

    I don't usually bother commenting on CNN articles, but I have to say to anyone reading that this song is excellent. It has an excellent beat and lyrical content. I was really impressed!

    May 17, 2012 at 12:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Fr33th1nk3r

      Puh-lease, it's rap....

      May 17, 2012 at 1:07 am | Report abuse |
  14. Fr33th1nk3r

    Islam, the religion of peace....

    May 17, 2012 at 1:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Dane

      for someone who called them self freethinker you sure can pidgin hole an entire genre of music publicly online, Thats free thought if i have ver heard it.

      May 17, 2012 at 5:54 am | Report abuse |
  15. charles bowen

    Kill all the Iranian leaders and let Allah Sort these idiots out.....Charles Bowen Solomon Stone

    May 17, 2012 at 7:54 am | Report abuse |
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