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)

    I find it interesting that much is being made over the reaction by one minor, yes minor, Iranian religious leaders reaction to this mans one personal attack upon his character, not the portions critical of Iran's social and political make up, for without looking very hard I can find many such cases by officialdom in all euro/centric and Israeli nations.
    Not understanding Farci I know not the quality or the content nor the commercial backers reasoning for its release but have no doubts the artist and producers knew that because of worlds geopolitical situation with a little hype sales would soar.
    Rushdies book sucked as a literary work and if not promoted by both theLiterati Illuminaty and political establishments they are part of. Would of been a sales flop.
    In fact Rushdie made more outside book sales than selling works, which by the way is how so many of our own political figures make a living.
    While we don't allow bountys to be placed by private individuals, outside of those in the Black community that is, maybe in Iran, like in US, their officials can do so at will.
    While in US we do not have officially recognized religion the combination of both have allowed censorship to thrive.
    the example of mass censorship has one glaring exsmple of just recent past, the DIXIE CHICKS, and their anti-war and anto-Bush stance.
    Multiple death threats, condemnation on floors of both houses of Congress, madssive attempt by medias celebritys and moguls alike to financially destroy them,and a public that still cannot see past the boards in their eyes

    May 15, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  2. LetUsReason

    Interesting reference to Rushdie considering that it was subseuqently proven that Khomeini received royalties from 'the satanic verses', so clearly that death threat was financially motivated...

    May 15, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Weird Al

    When Iranian rappers say they are "the bomb" they mean it literally.

    May 15, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Wes

    Islam is incompatible with democracy and therefore free speech

    May 15, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Dhulfiqar

    He deserves it. He knows the rules.

    May 15, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • gager

      The rules? Whose rules?

      May 15, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Iran

      I like turtles.

      May 15, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. gager

    Islam is a human cancer of the spirit. Woops, is there a bounty on me now?

    May 15, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • El Lobo

      All religion is a cancer to humanity

      May 16, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. MalakaShakalaka

    I like the song. sounds very catchy.

    May 15, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mohammed the Dog

    Woof woof!

    May 15, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Tachoman

    Got to love Islam, the so called religion of peace and still behaving as if in the medieval age.

    Pray we find a good efficient replacement for oil so we can finally put them behind us like an illness.

    May 15, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Captain Obvious

    Religion is dumb.

    May 15, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Divune

    I'm Iranian, and this song is pretty ironic. It's composed really well, and those fundamentalists can hate all they want but the issues Shahin Najafi brings up in this song are true!

    May 15, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mrs. Carter

      Which is, undoubtedly, why they want him silenced.

      May 15, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  12. WillH85

    Such a peaceful religion. I can't see how anybody could ever stereotype Islam as violent.

    May 15, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anthony Chadwell

      The are a very peaceful people. I'm sure they want him to die by being smothered by cute furry animals till he laughs himself to death 🙂

      May 15, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. RealityBites

    Religion.... promotes ignorance and stupidity, protects perverts and psychopaths, and victimizes children.

    May 15, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ahsan

    Imam Hadi is the 10 Imam in Shiite not the 7th as the article mentions.

    May 15, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • nx3pde

      Which of the ten is the most crazy?

      May 15, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Northern2014

    I bet his next show will be a BLAST.

    May 15, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
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