Iranian rapper forced into hiding after $100,000 bounty is placed on his head

Shahin Najafi says he's in disbelief after Iranian hardline clerics order his murder over controversial lyrics

An Iranian rapper has been forced into hiding after a $100,000 (£62,000) bounty was placed on his head.

The Independent says that Shahin Najafi, who lives in Germany, is in “disbelief” after Iranian hardline clerics ordered his murder in response to one of his songs which satirises the Tehran regime and they deem guilty of blasphemy.

According to reports, a fatwa was issued after Najafi released his song ‘Naqi’ on May 7. The track takes its name from Ali an-Naqi, a religious figure revered by Shia Muslims, and tackles subject matter such as oppression and abuse of human rights, before calling for Naqi to rescue Iran.

Another fatwa was subsequently issued that did not mention the rapper by name but did decree that any musician insulting Ali an-Naqi is guilty of blasphemy, before Iranian religious website Shia-Online started an online “campaign to execute” the musician offering a cash reward for his death, which has now been signed by more than 100 people.

Najafi, who originally fled from Iran to Germany in 2005 after he was allegedly threatened by Iranian intelligence for staging underground concerts, insisted that although the track was not a criticism of Islam, he would not apologise for its content. “I am still in disbelief. I’m only 31 with my whole life ahead of me,” he said. “Each person has to pay a price for what they want. I will never apologise for my art or for speaking the truth about the Iranian government.”