Will Europe stand by as an idle spectator as an attack on freedom is launched by Iranian Grand Ayatollahs, within its own borders?
Iranian rap artist, Shahin Najafi, has been condemned to death for insulting a Shia Imam.
After finding success in the underground music scene in Tehran, Najafi was forced to leave his native country and to make a new home for himself in Cologne, Germany. Following the release of his new song, Naghi, in which he insults Imam Hadi, Iranian Grand Ayatollahs responded by issuing a series of statements and fatwas. German police have assisted Najafi in going into hiding, but, as yet, politicians in Germany have failed to react to this affront on freedom.
Ayatollah Safi Golpayegani was first asked about Sharia law concerning „counter-revolutionary mercenaries“ abroad who insulted and poked fun at Imam Hadi. In response, he said, in a short and clear fatwa, that „if they have violated the honor of the Imam and insulted him, they are apostates.“ Every Muslim is aware that the punishment for apostates is death.
Some Revolutionary Guards with connections to the news agency, Farsnews, proceeded to single out Shahin Najafi as such an apostate and demanded his execution. Another news agency, Shia Online, put a US $100,000 bounty on Najafi’s head and indicated that the money came from an Arab supporter living in the Persian Gulf.
The second fatwa, issued by Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi, makes explicitly clear that non-Muslims will be executed if they „insult“ the Imams and the Prophet.
Ayatollah Shirazi was asked:
„Given the fact that Shahin Najafi, a singer based abroad, has insulted Imam Ali al-Hadi al-Naghi in his song and in pictures; given the fact that he has reviled the dome of the holy mosque of Imam Ali Mussa al Reza; and given the fact that the music and images are available on high-traffic websites, please let us know which answer the Sharia of Shia gives in this regard.“
Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi’s fatwa stated the following:
„If any abuse of the immaculate Imams and any obvious insult to them is committed by a Muslim, this person becomes an apostate. If this act is committed by a non-Muslim, he is considered a Sab ul Nabi, an insulter of the Prophet. „
Ayatollah Sobhani has stated that the new fatwas are the continuation of those against Salman Rushdie, infamously directed from Ayatollah Khomeini. Meanwhile Ayatollah Elmolhoda stressed that the Fatwas are not enough and that action should be taken. Disturbingly, the German weekly, Spiegel online, reported that an Iranian Consulate employee in Munich has distributed the Fatwas in Germany.
The biggest problem in this sorry affair is, of course, that any religious fanatic who believes a Muslim or non-Muslim has insulted the Imams or the Prophet is likely to feel legitimatised in the murder of anyone he thinks to be an apostate.
In fact, since the fatwas have been issued, a group called Heyate Madahel Reza (Council of the Eulogists of Reza) has declared their intention to kill Najafi. Their spokesperson, Abdulreza Halali, has made a statement claiming that close contacts of his organisation living in Europe have vowed to uncover the whereabouts of Shahin Najafi and to murder him.
The question now is whether Europe will stand by as an idle spectator while this attack on freedom is launched within its borders.
Wahied Wahdat-Hagh is a Senior Fellow at the European Foundation for Democracy (EFD) in Brussels