Sword against pen, torture and persecution against free speech and freedom of thought: this is the way of custodians of darkness; this is the natural extension of the inquisition and heresy tribunals of the medieval age, now revived under the cover of Islam and by Muslim fundamentalists. The guardians of the inquisition spilled the blood of another writer: Rafiq Tagi. He was a prominent Azerbaijani writer and intellectual whose views ran counter to the official and fundamentalist interpretations of Islam by Iranian mullahs.
In the wake of his criticism of Islamic fundamentalism, an Iranian cleric, Grand Ayatollah Fazel Lankarani, issued a death fatwa against Rafiq Tagi and openly called for his execution. On November 19th, Tagi was repeatedly stabbed in his hometown of Baku by an unknown assailant, and passed away four days later on November 23. Tagi was not the first writer to be killed by the enemies of freedom of expression; nor will he be the last. Nevertheless, just as the dark era of medieval inquisition-and the Iranian Pahlavi dictatorship- came to an end; so too will this one. No political regime, no matter how brutal and dictatorial, can silence the voice of dissent. Nor can they extinguish the desire for freedom.
PEN South Azerbaijan (Iran) in Exile strongly condemns the killing of Rafiq Tagi and considers it a heinous crime against humanity. We stand in solidarity with all writers, individuals, groups and organizations in the fight against censorship, dictatorship and fundamentalism.
PEN South Azerbaijan (Iran) in Exile