Shahin Najafi

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Shahin Najafi
شاهین نجفی
Shahin Najafi (10342456946).jpg
Shahin Najafi in 2013
Background information
Birth nameMorteza Najafipoor Moghaddam
Born (1980-09-10) 10 September 1980 (age 41)
Bandar-e Anzali, Iran
GenresRock, jazz, soul, blues, electronic, rap, Folk, folklore, pop, funk
Occupation(s)Musician, singer, composer, author, political activist, poet, guitarist
Instrumentsvocals, guitar, electric guitar, Bass, setar, Bouzouki, trumpet
Years active2005–present
LabelsTapesh 2012 (2006–2008), Pamas-Verlag (2008–2009), Sharr Music (2010), Dyaloge (2018–present)

Morteza Najafipoor Moghaddam (Persian: مرتضی نجفی‌پور مقدم; born 10 September 1980), better known as Shahin Najafi (Persian: شاهین نجفی), is an Iranian musician, singer, composer, songwriter, guitarist, poet, author, and political activist.[1]

Najafi's songs mostly deal with issues such as theocracy, poverty, sexism, censorship, child labor, execution, drug addiction and homophobia. In interviews, he has stated that he strives to use poetic, literary, philosophical and political elements in his music.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

Shahin Najafi was born in 1980 in Bandar-e Anzali, Iran. When he was six years old, his father died, and later his brother became a drug addict and also died.[4] He began writing poetry as a teenager and began learning the guitar in the classical and flamenco styles at the age of 18. He then became an underground artist in Iran, performing in both rock and Spanish music styles, working with various bands.[2]

He studied sociology at the University of Gilan and openly expressed his opinions about the university, leading to him getting expelled.[5][better source needed]

Music career[edit]

Immigration to Germany[edit]

Najafi was head of an underground music band in Iran before his immigration to Germany, but he was banned for his offenses towards the Islamic faith in Iran by the Iranian government after his second music show.[5] He was also the head of the Inan music band in Germany. Then he joined the Tapesh 2012 music band.[6] Tapesh 2012 were welcomed by Persian broadcasters and the international media by political and social songs and poems of Najafi.[7]

An article published in No. 19194 of the conservative newspaper Kayhan on 29 September 2008 criticized Tapesh 2012's activities. Kayhan published the article titled Establishing democracy with drum & circle. A part of it goes as follows:

Recently, opponents of the Islamic Republic of Iran continue their goals in universities and in the form of music groups to make known the autocracies of the Iranian government. Recently some blogs of opposition students have published a statement about "Tapesh 2012" which gives news Establishing One Million Signatures by "Tapesh 2012". This group is composed of some iranian and german that are not affiliated with any party or group. The purpose of this group is attempting to collect signatures and present it on the anniversary of Human rights (10 December) to Parliament of Europe in Brussels. They have attracted world media attention to inappropriate conditions in Iran and dissatisfaction of Iranian people. The Parliament of Europe announced the official support for the group plans. They encourage people to consider how the regime suppresses human rights.[8]

Release of first studio album[edit]

On 1 May 2008, Najafi released his first studio album, Ma mard nistim (We Are Not Men), with partnership and composition of the Tapesh 2012 music band. This album was his official and professional beginning in Persian hip hop music. The album attracted the audience and listener more than any album before it was released in Persian hip hop style.[9]

Separation from Tapesh 2012[edit]

Najafi ended cooperation with Tapesh 2012 from the beginning of 2009. A variety of reasons have been proposed related to his separation from this group. The main reason is releasing the "Around us" single song in Voice of America TV without permission. The supervisor of Tapesh 2012 later apologised to Najafi and stated: the song has been inadvertently released in Voice of America TV. Najafi accepted the apology.[10]

Reaction to the 2009 Iranian presidential election[edit]

After the Iranian election protests, Najafi released a single named Neda in July 2009 dedicated to Neda Agha-Soltan, an activist killed during the protests.[11] He released his second studio album titled Tavahhom (Illusion) on 19 September 2009 by the German-Iranian publishing house "Pamas-Verlag". In this album, several songs are about the intense protests against the Iranian government and the political oppression that occurred after the presidential election.[12][13] Can be cited to "Vaghti khoda khabe (When God is asleep)" through these songs. The song's lyrics protest the 2009 Iran poll protests trial, militia violence, the use of torture on prisoners and the Supreme Leader of Iran.

Formation of Antikarisma[edit]

He formed a new rock band as Antikarisma band in January 2010. The new band, Antikarisma, consists of Najafi, Babak Khazaei, Armin Mostaed, and Pejman Afshari, who live in Germany.[14][15]

Fatwas and death threats[edit]

Following the release of the song "Ay Naghi!" ("Hey, Naghi!"),[16][17] Grand Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi Golpaygani, a then 93-year-old Shi’ite cleric based in Qom, issued a fatwa death sentence against Najafi for apostasy.[18] Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem-Shirazi, a "source of emulation" for many Shia Muslims, also issued a fatwa declaring Najafi guilty of apostasy.[19] As of 15 May 2012, more than 800 people in Iran had joined a Facebook campaign calling for Najafi to be executed, saying they were ready to assassinate him if necessary.[20] An Iranian web site,, offered a US$100,000 bounty to anyone who killed Najafi.[18]

In May 2012, the online site posted an online "Shoot the Apostates" flash computer game inviting people to shoot and kill Najafi.[21] "Those who love Imam Hadi can practice killing Shahin Najafi by playing this flash game," said Honar Nab Eslam, who developed the game.[22]

On 25 May 2012, Shiite cleric Ahmad Alamolhoda demanded a plan to execute Najafi.[23]

In June 2012, forty authors of the Rah-e Nikan religious publishing house promised to give royalties from their books to whoever killed Najafi.[24]

The song has drawn sharp anger from protesters who believe it is offensive towards Imam Naghi, the 10th Imam in Shi’ite Islam.[25] In an interview,[26] Najafi stated that he was inspired by "The Campaign to Remind Shiites about Imam Naghi" to compose the song. The campaign is a Facebook page that pokes fun at Islamic, and specifically Shi'ite, hadiths, with members creating fake, funny hadiths and stories centered around a fictional character named Naghi, who is based on Imam Naghi.[27][non-primary source needed]

2012 US tour[edit]

Najafi started a United States tour in 2012, starting with a talk on 30 September, and later a concert on 16 November at University of California, Berkeley, events sponsored by Iranian Student Alliance in United States of America. He continued the tour in UC San Diego on 18 November.

Political and social activities[edit]

In addition to individual work in his concerts and campaign songs, Najafi had many performances on various political and social occasions. In October 2008, he had a music show on "Peace Conference" in Germany.[28] In August 2009, with some poets and writers in shows of ""Night of solidarity with the liberal struggle"", Najafi had a protest rock show in Stockholm, Sweden.[29] In December 2009, coinciding with "Student Day" in Iran, Najafi with Ziba Shirazi had a protest music show at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.[30]



With Tapesh 2012[edit]




Single tracks[edit]

  • Shaere tamam shodeh
  • Vaghti keh
  • Mahdi
  • Bega Mega
  • Naghi
  • Istadeh mordan
  • Too halgham
  • Period
  • Marg Nazli (The death of Nazli)
  • Maman
  • Eedam (The Execution)
  • Sha'aban
  • Sane
  • To Azam Badet Miad
  • Sharre Azam
  • Ba Ma
  • Vatan
  • Enghelabe Tafakor
  • Ham Ghafas
  • Kobani
  • Mamad Nobari
  • Fasle Darya
  • Neda
  • Palange Zakhmi
  • Enkar
  • Pishe Ghazio Mallagh Bazi
  • Amoo Norooz
  • Bbbbc
  • Salam
  • Proletariat
  • Ay Leili
  • Shahinam
  • Blue
  • Shayad
  • Beh Name to
  • Barkhiz
  • Ba mohayam
  • Masikh
  • Bawaasir
  • Aman
  • Tabar
  • Belam
  • Shivan
  • Seyl
  • Akharin Booseh
  • Tamam
  • Parvaz
  • Dictatorie Amameh
  • Sookhtam
  • Iran
  • Pedar
  • Maryam


Till Schauder released a documentary called When God Sleeps based on the life of Najafi, with the production of Sara Nodjoumi. The Hollywood Reporter puts it in a report on the film between the 23 films at the Tribeca Film Festival.

The film is made in 88 minutes in German, Persian and English, and is in the midst of a 2015 terrorist attack. The film is about the details of Shahin's life and, in general, the fatwa of apostasy and life under the shadow of this fatwa.


  • When the God is Asleep
  • Azazel
  • Bitrex
  • Tara Ensan


  1. ^ "Shahin Najafi in Interpretation of news program (Voice of America)". International public broadcaster. Voice of America.[dead YouTube link]
  2. ^ a b "Interview with Shahin Najafi". MANIHA website.
  3. ^ "Interview with Shahin Najafi and more information about illusion album". Deutsche Welle. Archived from the original on 11 July 2010.
  4. ^ "My past". Shahin Najafi.
  5. ^ a b "Interview with Shahin Najafi". Broadcaster. BBC.
  6. ^ "Protest of music to the patriarchal society of Iran". RFE/RL. Radio Farda.
  7. ^ "Music Festival Bochum Total and presence and performance of 'Tapesh 2012' music band". Deutsche Welle. Archived from the original on 11 July 2010.
  8. ^ "Establishing democracy with drum & circle: "Tapesh 2012"". Daily newspaper. Kayhan.
  9. ^ "The success of 'We Are Not Men'". International public broadcaster. Deutsche Welle.
  10. ^ "Separation from Tapesh 2012". Shahin Najafi.
  11. ^ "a memorial for Neda Agha-Soltan". Shahin Najafi.
  12. ^ "more about Illusion". Shahin Najafi.
  13. ^ "more about Illusion(2)". Shahin Najafi.
  14. ^ "Shahin najafi and Antikarisma band". Zir Zamin-Iranian alternative music magazine. Ferri Tafreshi. 10 February 2010. Archived from the original on 3 March 2012. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
  15. ^ "Shahin Najafi and Antikarisma – Voices of Change – Persian Hip hop Festival in Sweden". Zir Zamin-Iranian alternative music magazine. Ferri Tafreshi. 10 February 2010. Archived from the original on 8 March 2010. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
  16. ^ Shahin Najafi & Majid Kazemi – "Naghi," with English translation on YouTube
  17. ^ ""Ay Naghi" from Shahin Nafaji (Video and Lyrics)". 8 May 2012.
  18. ^ a b Bozorgmehr Sharafedin (15 May 2012). "Iranian rapper faces death threats for 'insulting' song". BBC. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
    *"Cleric calls for death sentence against 'apostate' Iranian rapper". International Herald Tribune. 10 May 2012. Retrieved 17 May 2012.
    *Thomas Erdbrink (14 May 2012). "Rapper Faces Death Threats in Iran Over Song". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 May 2012.
    *Farnaz Fassihi (16 May 2012). "Iranian Rapper Fears for His Life After Fatwa". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 17 May 2012.
    *Tony Paterson (17 May 2012). "'Blasphemous' rapper Shahin Najafi goes into hiding after Iran's hardline clerics put a $100,000 bounty on his head". The Independent. Retrieved 17 May 2012.
    *Carter Maness (17 May 2012). "Iranian Rapper Shahin Najafi Faces $100K Bounty, Death Threats Over Song". MTV News. Retrieved 17 May 2012.
  19. ^ Bozorgmehr Sharafedin (15 May 2012). "Iranian rapper faces death threats for 'insulting' song". BBC. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
    *Robin Pomeroy (14 May 2012). "Iranian rapper draws Shi'ite wrath, death bounty". Reuters. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
    *Saeed Kamali Dehghan (14 May 2012). "Iranian rapper faces death threats and fatwa for 'blasphemous' song". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
  20. ^ Bozorgmehr Sharafedin (15 May 2012). "Iranian rapper faces death threats for 'insulting' song". BBC. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
  21. ^ "Shoot the Apostates". Art Institute of Islamic Purity. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
    *"Play 'Shoot the Apostate'". Fars News Agency. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
    *"Computer game for killing the rapper Shahin Najafi produced in Iran". Lenz Iran. Retrieved 1 June 2012.[permanent dead link]
    *Online Video Game to Kill Iranian Rapper Shahin Najafi on YouTube
  22. ^ Samia Zahid. "'Target The Mortad', Iran Develops a Game Against Shahin Najafi". Kabir News. Retrieved 2 June 2012.
  23. ^ "Alamolhoda demands a plan for the execution of Najafi". Retrieved 1 June 2012.
  24. ^ "اطلاعیه نویسندگان نشر راه نیکان در عرض ادب به حکم ارتداد مراجع عظام تقلید (دام ظلهم) پیرامون جسارت به مقدسات اعتقادی مسلمین، خاصه شیعیان جهان". Rah-e-Nikan. Retrieved 5 June 2012.
    *Samia Zahid (5 June 2012). "Iran Announces New Prizes for the Killer of Shahin Najafi". Kabir News. Retrieved 5 June 2012.
    *Scott Lucas (5 June 2012). "Iran Music Feature: Rapper Shahin Najafi Responds to Death Threats...With a New Song". EA World View. Retrieved 5 June 2012.
  25. ^ "Cleric calls for death sentence against 'apostate' Iranian rapper". International Herald Tribune.
  26. ^ "Shahin Najafi: Only the weak appeal to insults". Radio Farda.
  27. ^ "کمپین یادآوری امام نقی به شیعیان".
  28. ^ ""Peace Conference" in Essen, Germany and Shahin Najafi's show". Shahin Najafi. shahin-najafi. 18 July 2009. Retrieved 15 August 2009.
  29. ^ "Night of solidarity with the liberal struggle". Shahin Najafi. shahin-najafi. 18 July 2009. Retrieved 15 August 2009.
  30. ^ "Ceremony of Student Day in Georgetown University". Shahin Najafi. shahin-najafi. 18 July 2009. Retrieved 15 August 2009.

External links[edit]