A German-based Iranian is in hiding after his single was deemed an insult to a Shi’a imam. In an interview, the artist says Tehran is instigating outrage—and he fears a fatwa.
Just days after the release of a song that led to heated reactions in Iran and a bounty on his head, German-based Iranian rapper Shahin Najafi told The Daily Beast that he is not going to apologize for his provocative work, as he does not see it as an insult. He accused Tehran’s “ruling system” of stirring up religious outrage.
Now one of the world’s most controversial Iranian artists, Najafi, 32, moved to Germany in 2005 and has released four albums. Each has focused on everyday life in the Islamic Republic, and his work has earned him more than 212,000 fans on just his Facebook page. But the release of his last song, “Naqi,” the name of the 10th Shi’a imam, may have launched him into a life-threatening whirlwind similar to that faced by author Salman Rushdie. Najafi told The Daily Beast that perceiving his song as an insult is “a 100 percent misinterpretation.”
Since the song came out May 7 and drew death threats against Najafi, the German government has provided a safe house for the artist, who worries the security is insufficient. “I’m living in a secret place now and I don’t have any bodyguards. My daily life and work have been derailed,” he said in an interview. “Naturally, I continue my own way, but this didn’t make me happy. I have nothing against people’s beliefs. I do my own artistic work.”
Do we really need any more indications that the regime is unworthy of the Iranian people?