Shahin Najafi, an Iranian rap artist living in Germany, had put out four albums before he rose to fame overnight. “Naghi,” a sardonic song he wrote in the form of a prayer, shocked many people back in his home country. Today, he receives death threats
from those who view his song as blasphemous, and is even featured in an online video game
where the goal is to shoot him dead.
A screen grab from an online video game in which players have to shoot Najafi, who is called "the assaulter of the Prophet', before he shoots them.
When Najafi posted his song on YouTube on May 7, he had no idea it would have such a huge impact. His lyrics
take the form of a prayer addressing the tenth imam of Shia Islam, Ali al-Naghi, in a bid to denounce what he sees as hypocrisy in Iranian society. He gives many examples, such as the prevalence of plastic surgery in a country where women wear veils, and the importation of religious objects from China.
Just three days after being posted online, the video had already been watched 130,000 times. Though it wasn’t officially condemned by the Iranian regime, the song’s sarcastic, joking tone quickly sparked outrage among leading religious figures. Ayatollah Safi Golpayegani, notably, accused the rapper of committing blasphemy by citing Naghi. The conservative Iranian website Asr Emrooz called for the rapper to be hanged; another radical website, shia-online.ir, offered a reward of 100,000 dollars (about 78,000 euros) to whoever would kill him.