German Police Address Threat While Website Offers Reward for Shahin Najafi’s and His Fan’s Death
The announcement by an ultra-conservative website in Iran on May 1, 2015, of a reward of approximately $155,000 for anyone who blows up the concert venues of German-based Iranian musician Shahin Najafi, has met with the defiant reaction of the artist.
“This is a clear public threat,” Shahin Najafi told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. “When they realized that their threats didn’t have an impact on our work, they are now trying to create an air of intimidation and fear by targeting ordinary people to harm our work. But the important point is that if they feel their threats have been effective, they will increase their pressure on the Iranian community outside of Iran.”
The posting on the Aba Shohada website stated, “Blowing up the concert location of the Hyena [the term they used to refer to Najafi], is the final answer to the insults,” and went on to explicitly threaten Najafi, his fans, and anyone involved in the promotion of his concerts.
In his May 6 interview with the Campaign, Najafi, a popular musician and lyricist whose music of protest has a huge following among Iranians worldwide, said, “The German Security Police are reviewing the case to ensure that our performances and events are carried out in the best possible way.”
Hours after news of the threats posted on the Aba Shohada website began to circulate, the website became inaccessible. It soon resumed operation and wrote, “Following repeated warnings by the Dutch domain registration center (under pressure from the German intelligence organization), access to Aba Shohada website was disrupted…Aba Shohada is active again. The six-hour interruption could even turn into a 48-hour technical interruption, but if the prize money was 500 million toman yesterday [approximately $155,000], it has been augmented by five kilograms of gold bars in just two days, and we will increase it more. We are not political, but we believe that our political and religious beliefs are the same.”
On May 6, Aba Shohada published a warning letter it received from Realtime Register B.V. in the Netherlands and announced that the website is now hosted in Iran. The warning letter read, “It has come to our attention that the domain name operation of abashohada.com registered through your services puts bounties on people’s heads to have them killed. This is a violation of the terms and conditions of Realtime Register B.V.”
According to Iran’s Internet Crimes Law, which is based on the country’s Islamic Penal Code and Press Law, “criminal content” on the Internet is described as any “threats for bombing, instigating or inciting the public to war and killing each other, and persuading and encouraging individuals and groups to commit acts against the Islamic Republic of Iran’s security, reputation, and interests inside and outside the country.”
Despite this explicit delineation of criminal content, there has been no reaction by Iranian judicial authorities or the Working Group to Determine Instances of Criminal Content to Aba Shohada’s invitation to the public to commit mass murder in other countries for prize money.
The US-based prominent Iranian lawyer Mehrangiz Kar told the Campaign that the Aba Shohada website has committed the most serious crimes stipulated in the Internet Crimes Law, crimes that could additionally endanger Iran’s national security and foreign policy.
Kar added, “I doubt it personally that there will be the slightest confrontation with the individual in charge of this website. Remember Sattar Beheshti, who eventually died [while in police custody in November 2012] under torture for writing some things in his personal blogs. We have never seen any punishments issued for individuals who are close to the regime, but whose conduct severely threatens national security.”
Shahin Najafi will begin the European leg of his world tour on May 16. He released a rap song in 2012 which dealt with such issues as corruption and environmental degradation in Iran, as well as the continued house arrest of the Green Movement leaders. Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi deemed such content evidence of apostasy—a crime punishable by death in Iran–and issued a fatwa to that effect.