Iranian rapper Shahin Najafi knows how to get your attention. Najafi’s songs, which frequently discuss sensitive topics such as Iran’s theocracy, sexism, child labor, censorship, drug addiction and homophobia, helped make him a legend in Iran’s underground music scene.
But with popularity came criticism and eventually the full wrath of Iran’s conservative regime. A new documentary titled, “When God Sleeps,” by German-American director Till Schauder, will chronicle Najafi’s tumultuous journey.
Najafi’s life is comprised of events that are typically only seen in fictional movies. Yet, there is nothing fictional about Najafi’s life–it’s all very real, with life or death hanging in the balance. One of those events include the time when Najafi was accused of denigrating imams in the song “Naghi“. The song, which included references to Ali al-Hadi al-Naqi, the tenth of the 12 Shia Muslim Imams, stirred debate in the country pitting those finding it offensive and insulting to their beliefs, against others defending the song, saying it broke taboos especially in regards to expressing views about religious personalities. The songs biting lyrics landed Najafi a death sentence (fatwa) from Ayatollah Safi Golpayegani, a Shia cleric in the Iranian city of Qom. In addition, a $100,000 reward was offered to anyone who kills Najafi.
See more at Iranian.