A hip hop fatwa

Islamist website offers reward for the death of Iranian rapper Shahin Najafi

May 16, 2012

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The Iranian rapper Shahin Najafi has ignited controversy with his latest song. The song, “Naghi,” refers to Imam Naghi, a highly revered Shiite Muslim cleric. The song’s lyrics contain some sexual innuendo:

Hey Naghi! We are ready wearing our shrouds.
Hey Naghi! Rise up!

Naghi! For the sake of love and Viagra.

It’s not just the lyrics that have angered clerics: The album cover depicts the dome of a mosque shaped like a woman’s breast. Now an Islamist website has offered $100,000 for anyone who kills Najafi.

Najafi raps in Farsi but lives in Germany – he fled there in 2011, after he received death threats. He recently defended the song on the German website Qantara, saying, “I criticize Iranian society in the song,” but “it seems as though people are just concentrating on the word ‘imam.’ ”

Jerome and Eight Forty-Eight host Tony Sarabia parse Najafi’s lyrics and his message with Ahmad Sadri, a professor of sociology at Lake Forest College.  Sadri is originally from Iran and explains why Najafi’s song has caused such a stir.