Foreign Policy Blogs

Iranian Ayatollah Praises Rafiq Tagi’s Assassins

The son of the Iranian ayatollah who issued the 2006 fatwah calling for the assassination of Azeri author Rafiq Tagi has issued a statement on his web site praising Tagi’s murderers.

Sheikh Mohammed Fazel Lankarani, a prominent ayatollah like his late father, has written on his site that “Without a doubt, the man who performed the sentence and pleased the Muslims, will receive a great gift from the Almighty.”

The ayatollahs Lankarani, father (l) and son (r):

The full text (in Persian) is here. A translation is not available in the English language section of Lankarani’s site, although this English version from the Turan News Agency(available on seems to be accurate.

After Tagi’s controversial “Europe and Us” article was published in late 2006, Lankarani’s father, Grand Ayatullah Fazel Lankarani, issued a fatwah on his web site saying that “it is necessary for every individual who has an access to [Tagi] to kill him. The person in charge of the […] newspaper, who published such thoughts and beliefs consciously and knowingly, should be dealt with in the same manner.”

Another cleric from the Iranian city of Tabriz reportedly offered his house as a reward for anyone who killed Tagi and his editor Samir Sadagatoglu, who has told the press in recent days that he fears for his life.

Today (29 November), the US Embassy in Baku issued a statement on Tagi’s murder, referring to it a “heinous crime” and calling on the Azerbaijani government to “devote all necessary resources to bring the perpetrators” to justice.

The statement was curiously late, in my view, coming six days after Tagi’s murder and four days following a much stronger statement from the French Foreign Ministry.

Meanwhile, Tagi’s family have asked the government to provide protection, according to a report from



Karl Rahder
Karl Rahder

Karl Rahder has written on the South Caucasus for ISN Security Watch and ISN Insights (, news and global affairs sites run by the Swiss government. Karl splits his time between the US and the former USSR - mostly the Caucasus and Ukraine, sometimes teaching international relations at universities (in Chicago, Baku, Tbilisi) or working on stories for ISN and other publications. Karl received his MA from the University of Chicago, and first came to the Caucasus in 2004 while on a CEP Visiting Faculty Fellowship. He's reported from the Caucasus on topics such as attempted coups, sedition trials, freedom of the press, and the frozen Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. For many years, Karl has also served as an on-call election observer for the OSCE, and in 2010, he worked as a long-term observer in Afghanistan for Democracy International.

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