Iranian state terrorism? A shot at the apostates

The Iranian regime is actively calling for the killing of those it sees as dissidents

A screenshot from a new morbid online game, endorsed by Fars News
Wahied Wahdat-Hagh
On 11 June 2012 12:25

Fanatics can now practice the execution of “apostates” in an online game. Iranian state news agency, Fars News, reported the appearance online of “A Shot at the Apostates” and even encouraged Muslims to download and play it, with the aim of the game being to kill rapper Shahin Najafi who has been condemed to death for insulting a Shia Imam. Apparently, the game was developed by the Foundation for the Art of a Pure Islam on the grounds of defending religious honour by giving players the chance to practice killing Najafi, who they claim to be a “representative of the devil”.

Another objective of the game is to encourage a willingness to “execute the damned apostates.” According to Fars News, Najafi or anyone else who insults the Prophet Mohammad and the Imams will have a similar fate to “dirty” Salman Rushdie and will suffer in “hiding until their deaths”.

In the game, Najafi, microphone in hand, is a moving puppet of the BBC, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Voice of America (VOA) and “Zionism”, with the aim of the game being to shoot him. According to Fars News, similar games will soon be developed by the same institution.

Meanwhile, Cyber Hezbollah held its eighth conference, which was broadcast on state television and where the supposed ongoing “Internet war” was discussed. In the conclusions of this conference, Cyber Hezbollah condemned Najafi’s so-called insults. The conclusions also state that, following the insurrections (Fetne) in 2009, the Islamic revolution is experiencing a new birth online. One of the participants at the conference, Fazlinejad, not only mentioned Shahin Najafi as an insult to Islam but also his former group Tapesh 2012, as well as Mohsen Namjoo and Golshifte Farahani.

What's more, Cyber Hezbollah announced its intension to attack websites that contain “insults” such as Najafi’s. It also praised the recommendation of the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, to set up a state Internet council in the hope that such a body may lead to greater state support of its activities. Until now Cyber Hezbollah has been supported by various Iranian ministries. It will likely get more coherent Iranian state support across the board in future.

Of course, not all Iranians support calls to murder supposed dissidents. Siamak Mehr recalls the fact that many Iranians were murdered simply because they were accused of having offended a particular interpretation of Islam. For example, he recalls the assassination of Fereidun Farokhzad on 6th August 1992 in Bonn, who was stabbed to death by fanatic Muslims.

In a BBC Farsi Blog, Faraj Sarkohi, a literary critic and Iranian journalist living in Germany, criticised the “monopoly of one religion” over all other religious and non-religious ways of thinking. Followers of other religions are also against the insulting of their religious symbols, but it is more often those from certain Muslim quarters who cross the boundaries into physical violence in defence of these symbols.

Sarkohi goes on to write that some activities carried out in Europe, such as bombings of newspaper offices, death fatwas and attacks on people or other buildings have generated a climate of fear. According to Sarkohi some European media outlets now practice self-censorship and do not publish anything that could be considered by some Muslims as an insulting. This is a remarkable sign of victory for religious fanatics. Optimistically, Sarkohi believes that one day “artistic and literary creativity built on the foundations of freedom will prevail again.”

In the here and now, the fact of the matter is that the Iranian regime is actively calling for the killing of those it sees as dissidents. This is no more and no less than state terrorism.

Wahied Wahdat-Hagh is a Senior Fellow at the European Foundation for Democracy (EFD) in Brussels

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