Iranian rapper faces death threats, bounty over song
The bounty for the killing of rapper Shahin Najafi appear on the website
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 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. vote

    Blasphemy laws are the creates threat to human rights the world has ever known.
    Blasphemy laws are the world's greatest threat to all human freedom.
    Blasphemy laws are the single greatest tool of oppression the world has ever known.

    Any cleric can claim to be above criticism by virtue of being a representative of a religion, any cleric can claim to be above the law by virtue of being a cleric. Anyone can call someone else a heretic in order to stifle criticism.

    May 15, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  2. MarileeBob

    The cleric they quote is 92 years old, which gives me hope. Hope that soon he and others from that generation will soon be dead, and the younger generation (like this rapper) can start making the changes to their society they want to make.

    Same as in our country.

    May 15, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |

      The young generation is as naive as most of the west to think that there can be a dialogue with this Islamic medieval tyrannical regime . You cannot debate or reason with them. This is a WAR, and the only way to achieve freedom is to WIN.

      May 15, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • PulTab

      Clicks on the "like" button.

      May 15, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Shidona Shingle

    Who gives a shiite?

    May 15, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • FuuckyourImam

      who cares what these wacko fundamentalists think. nuke em!

      May 15, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ken margo

    The U.S. should wait until we get our troops out of the middle east, then hold weekly Koran burnings. These people will lose their minds and tear their country apart. Of course they will hate us, but they do that anyway. The less of them the better. These people are total whack jobs. If Allah hasn't showed up to stop the killings in Syria, when will he show up. The "protection" of made up religious Gods has got to stop.

    May 15, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Thinkforyourself

    Still stuck in the 7th century. With a people too afraid to say "this is crazy"...

    May 15, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Aaron

    Iran's governing body i such a joke.

    May 15, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jake

    Sounds like Imam Hadi thinks hes all that and a bag of chips. Hadi, get over yourself!

    May 15, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. hikohadon

    Further proof that time travel is possible.

    May 15, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mortalc01l

    Ah yes... Religion; ain't it grand? Religion is quite probably the most evil thing ever invented by Mankind.

    May 15, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. mike brady

    allah is a gay goat and mahmud his beatch
    and a free beer for anyone who offs any greybeard in the iranian inquisition

    May 15, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bad Name Caller - Shame on you

    Yo Kid Iran – gez u shuddah not sed no bad words bout yo hommie Imam.....

    May 15, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Isma'il

    He wont be visiting home anytime soon.

    May 15, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
  13. PulTab


    May 15, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  14. matt

    Do we really have to respect a belief system in which a person speaking in terms that are critical in a very minuscule way automatically has a bounty on their head?

    May 15, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dylan

      That's Iran. Not Islam as a whole. Besides, you see this kind of thing with any religious extreme. Christian extremists too. And if we stop tolerating religions we deem extreme or undeserving of our respect, we are no better than Iran.

      May 15, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • SidAirfoil

      Depends what you mean by "respect". We must ACCEPT that this the way that Iranian/Muslim culture is. It's a fact. And like it or not, we MUST deal with people who believe in this kind of primitive behavior, because they are developing nukes, for example. But we DO NOT have to AGREE with their beliefs, nor do we have to treat their beliefs as if they are morally equivalent to our own. I believe that our cultural values are morally (and practically) superior to theirs in most (if not all) ways. But we can't wish them or their values away. We must DEAL with them. This is why all this talk about dropping bombs on Iran may be satisfying in a gut-reaction sort of way, but it is not rational.


      May 15, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Allah has mercy

    Allah is a peaceful Bomber.

    May 15, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
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