Iranian rapper in hiding, but defiant after call for his death

The Iranian-born rapper marked for death for insulting a ninth-century imam and criticizing Tehran’s regime as corrupt is determined to press his message to young fans, according to the German author who hid Shahin Najafi in his home.
Najafi, whose song „Ay Naghi“ brought two fatwas, or calls for his death, within days of its release on Facebook, will not be intimidated, though he knows he cannot perform live, according to Gunter Wallraff, a non-fiction writer who hid Najafi until German police found him and placed him in a safehouse.
“On the contrary, he feels responsible to himself and to his many young followers, especially in Iran, not to give in,” Wallraff said in an exclusive interview with “The death threats show that this regime needs the image of an enemy because it can no longer offer any values and is therefore looking for helpless victims.”
Najafi, 32, who is a German citizen and has lived in Cologne, is a star in his homeland, where he has 200,000 fans on his Facebook page. He fled to Germany in 2005 after being sentenced to a hundred lashes and three years in jail. But his new song brought the ultimate sentence because it is considered an insult to a ninth-century Shiite imam, Ali al Hadi al-Naqi, also known as Imam Naghi. Shiites venerate al-Naqi, a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad. An Iranian website, Shia Online, has offered $100,000 to anyone who kills Najafi.

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