Shahin Najafi's "Naghi" --- English translation posted on YouTube
Our colleague Arshama has posted an evaluation on Arshama3's Blog of the episode of the "death fatwa" declared against an Iranian rapper for his criticism of the Islamic Republic --- any errors in translation are mine:
This week, news circulated of the death sentence, declared by Iran's clerics, against the 31-year-old rapper Shahin Najafi , who has lived in exile in Cologne, Germany since 2005.
The catalyst for the fatwa is Najafi latest song "Naghi", in which he castigates religious superstition, in particular with, the spread of the Islamic regime since President Ahmadinejad took power in 2005. The lyrics are not just about Naghi, the 10th Imam of the Shia, or cosmetic nose surgery, as ARD correspondent Reinhard Baumgarten has reported from Tehran. Najafi is also discussing recent political scandals and social events in Iran.
"O Naghi, come and rescue us in our shroud (the clothing of martyrs) because of the Mahdi is asleep." With this refrain, the Cologne rapper mocks the propaganda for the Mahdi, the 12th "lost" Imam, whose return is the promise of salvation on earth for the regime. The list of evils from which we need to be rescued is long, often indicated in only one or two words that will be of significance for the mainly Iranian audience. These range from the rape of male protesters in prison, after demonstrations against the fraudulent presidential election of 2009, to the multi-billion dollar banking scandal from last fall, with the alleged involvement of President Ahmadinejad's advisors and prominent MPs. The absurdities include the cardboard cutout of the late revolutionary leader Khomeini for the celebrations of the 33rd anniversary of the Islamic Republic, and the myth that the current Supreme Leader was able to speak at his birth.
Then there are the social grievances and the bad habits of the Iranians, such as the rampant nationalism and praise of the Aryan race, which has not been directed against Jews but against Arabs in the Emirates, with conflicts such as Iran's claim to the island of Abu Musa in the Persian Gulf.
Nor is the opposition at home and abroad spare from criticism. "How can we again welcome the leaders of the Green Movement?" asks Najafi, referring to Mir Hossein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard and Mehdi Karroubi, who have been cut off for 15 months from the outside world by their strict house arrests, and the rapper then complains about "mummified" dissidents in exile.
In an interview with Radio Farda, Najafi explained that the recent promotion of the Imam Naghi prompted this humorous song. He also criticised the dogmatism in Islam which, turning any confrontation with the saints to praise, has always hindered the development of arts in Iran has always been. This view has exposed him to a brutal bounty for "blasphemy".
The politics behind that bounty have been exposed, especially since the fatwa of Ayatollah Safi Golpayegani was not explicitly directed against Najafi. The alleged "death fatwa" was published three weeks ago, while Najafi's song circulated only this week on the Internet. Iran's Revolutionary Guards turned the general nature of the decree by clerics in Qom later to defamation of a popular singer, as the dissident website Digarban and BBC Persian have noted.