United for Iran has issued a statement on the religious ruling against rapper Shahin Najafi, calling on Iranian authorities to condemn the incitement to murder from clerics and other forces. An excerpt from the statement reads:

Thursday, May 17, 2012 Washington, DC – United for Iran condemns the issuing of a death ruling for rapper Shahin Najafi by grand ayatollahs Safi Golpaygani and Naser Makarem Shirazi in response to Najafi’s song “Naghi” – the name of Shi’ite Islam’s 10th imam. United for Iran calls on the Iranian government to condemn the cleric-issued fatwa, reform its penal code to remove the death penalty for those labeled “apostates,” and to institute provisions that outlaw incitement to murder, including in fatwas issued by clerics.

The fatwa was issued in response to the May 7 release of Najafi’s song, a social and political commentary on conditions inside Iran. Powerful conservative clerics and related Shia websites have called for Najafi’s killing, even offering a $100,000 reward for carrying it out. The ruling and subsequent campaigning by radical religious groups in support of Najafi’s killing has been reported by Fars News, an Iranian media outlet close to Iran’s security organs. Najafi, 31, a popular contemporary Iranian musician who resides in Germany, has told reporters that he fears for his life.

Read the complete statement on United for Iran.

Najafi told the German Broadcaster Deutsche Welle, “I thought there would be some ramification. But I didn’t think it would upset the regime that much. Now they are taking advantage of the situation and making it look like I was trying to criticize religion and put down believers.”

The New York Times reports on a response in Iran’s hardline Kayhan newspaper:

“Just as Florida pastor Terry Jones, who last month burned Korans, does not represent the United States government, this fatwa does not represent the government of Iran,” said Sadollah Zarei, a columnist for the hard-line state Kayhan newspaper. “This is done by a religious group in our society.”

The two examples are not comparable. Terry Jones was a fringe voice with approximately 30 followers and no influence on legal actions in the US. This is very much unlike Iran where religious rulings can be used as punishments against individuals.