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Exclusive: Shahin Najafi on the Perils of Being an Artist in Iran

[cover of Shahin Najafi's album Hich Hich Hich. photo by Reza Ahmadi] [cover of Shahin Najafi's album Hich Hich Hich. photo by Reza Ahmadi]

Iranian musician and songwriter Shahin Najafi describes himself as an artist who shows no mercy to any group or any part of the political spectrum. In his work nothing appears to be sacred; his lyrics constantly question political authoritarianism, social injustice, ideological dogmas, and cultural taboos. Shahin Najafi’s defiant spirit put him at loggerheads with the authorities in Iran and compelled him to leave the country in 2004 in order to continue his work without fear of persecution. But even that did not end his troubles with Iranian authorities.


Earlier this year, he had to take temporary refuge in a house near Cologne, Germany after a cleric in Iran issued a fatwa, a religious edict, calling for his death. The cleric characterized one of Shahin Najafi’s songs, "Naghi," as offensive to religious values and called him an apostate who had to be killed. A $100,000 bounty was also offered for the musician’s head, in case the religious proclamation was not enough to motivate one to do the killing.

Even this latest episode did not stop Shahin Najafi from continuing his musical journey.  He connects to his many fans in Iran through Barg Music. Malihe Razazan spoke with Shahin Najafi about his work and his connection to his fans in Iran  

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