For Iranian rap singer and activist, Shahin Najafi, criticisms and bans are something that have defined his short, yet extremely popular musical career. However, even he would not have imagined that his music would ever win him a death sentence, let alone awards.
Persian-language Al Arabiya reported on Wednesday, that the latest single from the Germany based singer “Naqi,” has earned him a death sentence from Ayatollah Safi Golpayegani, a Shia cleric in the Iranian city of Qom.
The song has drawn sharp anger from protesters who believe it is offensive towards Imam Naqi, the revered tenth Imam for Shias. Iran follows the Shia form of Islam as its mainstream religion.
News website Asr Iran, which is closely tied to the Shia regime in Tehran, even started campaign against Najafi, condemning him to apostasy. Apostasy carries a death sentence in Iran.
Al Arabiya dubbed Najafi as “Salman Rushdie of music”, with the apostasy charge also being associated with the controversial author.
Najafi, 31, was forced to move to Germany when his politically-motivated lyrics for an underground band he was associated in Iran, earned him a ban. His songs mostly deal with issues such as theocracy, poverty, sexism, censorship, child labour, execution and drug addiction. He strives to use poetic, literary, philosophical and political elements in his music.