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Neda

She was attending the Iranian protests with an older man, some accounts say it was her father, more recent ones say it was her professor. By all accounts they were just watching the protests, not really actively involved, certainly not engaging the Basij themselves. This video purportedly shows them right before fate reared its ugly head:

But then Neda’s world went black. A shot, either from a building or a motorcycle, rang out, and, well, most of you have probably already seen the video of her after being gunned down. (WARNING: Graphic content, also you’ll need a YouTube account to see it).

Since then, as this FoxNews.com article points out she has become the “face of the protests” in Tehran. The 26-year old philosophy student’s death has galvanized many of the protestors.

Mehdi Khalaji, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near Eastern Affairs, told FOXNews.com that Neda has become “one of the pillars of this movement now,” and the bloody images of her dying in the street are its “main icons and symbols.”

Indeed. Backtracking in the article we find that

In the space of just hours, the philosophy student became the image of Iran’s democratic protests, nicknamed the “Angel of Freedom.” But it is Neda’s real name, which means “voice” or “calling” in Farsi, that is resonating in slogans throughout Iran’s capital and beyond.

Apparently she wasn’t all that involved with the elections, either.

Her fiance said in an interview with BBC Persian that she had not supported any candidate in the allegedly fraudulent elections. Neda wanted “freedom for all,” he said.

The Iranian leaders haven’t turned a blind eye to the reaction this senseless killing has had on the protestors either. In addition to reports before and after Neda’s murder hit YouTube that wounded protestors were being arrested at hospitals and were beginning to seek shelter at foreign embassies memorial services for Neda and other protestors killed are being forbidden. The latter is in violation of Islamic law, according to Ali Salehi, a research analyst at UCLA. There is a memorial service being called for Thursday for Neda and all the protestors killed by Mehdi Karroubi, a leader of the demonstrations.

“Should the masses come it is going to be very devastating because they will be facing those who they believe to be her murderers in the face,”

Whether or not there is a violent crackdown at Thursday night’s memorial, the Islamic underpinnings of the regime are more and more being called into question by Iranians, said Salehi, particularly after the ban on mourning Neda, which contradicts Islamic law, he said.

“Not only is that not right, but according to Islamic tradition it is immoral and improper, so they are essentially breaking one of their own laws out of fear.”

To me, that alone shows how desperate Khameini and the other mullahs are. To be taking the death of this young woman and others this seriously as to violate one of their own laws shows that the fear Salehi alludes to is one of the Iranian Revolution possibly coming to an end. That of course means the end of their own power over the Iranian people, either directly or through someone like Ahmadinejad. No despot will give up such power easily, the desire for control is just too strong. But Khameini’s calls for an end to the protests and declaration of Ahmadinejad as the winner fell on deaf ears. Today, the demonstrations went on amid calls for a general strike for tomorrow. Just how much is Neda’s memory spurring this on? We may not know for awhile, if ever because of the strict news blackout being imposed. But every revolution has a rallying cry and a focal point, Neda may well be both for at least some of the protesters this time. The breaking of Islamic law by forbidding memorial services for her and others could also prove to be even stronger for many others.

After all, wasn’t the establishment of Islamic law what the Iranian revolution back in the 70’s all about?

Neda,
May God hold you in his arms and comfort your family and friends in their time of sorrow. Peace be with you and them.

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