Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Voice of the Iranian Uprising

I recall the revolutionaries of 1979 saying to America, "The blood of our martyrs drips from your fingers." The shooting of Neda Agha-Soltani on Saturday turns what were no doubt Ahmadinejad's own words thirty years ago back at himself.
Neda (her name in Farsi means "the call" or "the voice," which is inconvenient for the regime) was a young woman in her twenties, engaged to be married, attending the protest with her father. She was gunned down by the government that should have been protecting her life and liberty. The blood streaming from her body has become a symbol of a nation suffering under a tyrannical government.

After her death come the reverberations of the Shi'ite mourning cycle. Robin Wright of Time Magazine reports:
The cycles of mourning in Shi'ite Islam actually provide a schedule for political combat — a way to generate or revive momentum. Shi'ite Muslims mourn their dead on the third, seventh and 40th days after a death, and these commemorations are a pivotal part of Iran's rich history. During the revolution, the pattern of confrontations between the Shah's security forces and the revolutionaries often played out in 40-day cycles.

Read the front page report in The New York Times: "In a Death Seen Around the World, a Symbol of Iranian Protests."

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