With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan lasting over a decade now, occasionally we Americans can forget just how bad things are for many men and women living in the Middle East. The poverty, the lack of basic food and resources, the oppressive regimes – and most importantly the limitations on even the most basic freedoms.
Consider the case of Shahin Najafi, a man who is now in hiding because the Iranian government plans on killing him. Why? For releasing a rap song.
Shahin Najafi is a rapper/musician who moved from Iran to Germany in 2005 after various threats from local authorities convinced him that his form of rap music was just too hot to handle. Najafi’s music is often critical of the Iranian government, something that isn’t just fodder for provocative lyrics, but could put you in jail, or six feet under if some government officials have their say.
Last week he released “Naghi” a song that is critical of Iranian society and politics and within a week all hell broke loose.
A prominent Islamic cleric, Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi-Golpayegani, has called the rapper an apostate, an enemy of the nation and the faith and made calls for his death. Several Iranian newspapers are reporting that an anonymous man has offered a $100,000 bounty to anyone who kills Najafi, and I suspect can also bring back original tracks of his most controversial songs.
Shahin has been in hiding in Cologne, Germany since the release of the Fatwa and bounty, and he plans on staying as safe as he can until perhaps the furor dies down. However, this does speak to one of those often ignored aspects of radical Islam, which is the reach that some of these zealots have beyond their own borders. It’s one thing for the Iranian government to oppress some of their own citizens, that is a problem and a human rights issue that should be addressed. However, when someone can have a bounty put on their heads just because they happen to be Iranian, and happen to criticize the Iranian government regardless of where they live in the world – that is a serious problem.
I know that the wars in the Middle East have gone on so long that they can become parodies like The Dictator, but it’s still important to be aware of exactly what is going on in a part of the world where we spend an inordinate amount of time, money and lives.
This article originally appeared online at Politic365.com.