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Death threat for rapper

May 11, 2012

A Germany-based rapper has cancelled his concerts and turned to the police for protection. An Iranian ayatollah proclaimed one of Shahin Najafi's songs blasphemy, opening the door for him to be killed.

Iranian rapper and songwriter Shahin Najafi and his band
Image: DW

Najafi said on Friday he had cancelled concerts in Europe, but that he wanted to continue working despite the threat to his life.

"I am young, and I am an artist, and I have to perform," the 31-year old told German public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk, saying that he couldn't accept the idea of living underground for a long amount of time.

Najafi's manager said the Iranian-born musician was receiving police protection.

Iranian Grand Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi Golpaygani had accused Najafi of insulting a Shiite Islam prophet in his song "Imam Naghi," Iranian news agency Fars reported on Wednesday. The cleric's comments can be interpreted as a call to all Muslims to kill the 31-year-old musician.

Najafi rejected the allegation his song was insulting to the prophet.

"I am just as critical of Islam as I am of Judaism or Christianity," Najafi said in an interview with WDR radio, adding that it was not the first time he had been warned by Iranian clerics over his songs.

Before he came to Germany in 2005, Najafi was an underground musician and political activist at home in Iran. His songs and albums are available there on the black market and on the Internet. He is known for lyrics critical of Islam.

ncy/msh (dpa, AFP)