Neda: The Symbol of a Brewing Revolution

“When we are dead, seek not our tomb in the earth, but find it in the hearts of men,” reads the epitaph on the tomb of Rumi,  famed 13th century Persian poet and mystic. Though he died hundreds of years ago, those words ring truer today than ever before, most certainly when it came to Neda, a woman shot by Basij volunteer militia in Tehran on Saturday, June 20, as she stood peacefully alongside those protesting the outcome of the Iranian election they believed to be rigged.

The world watched as she lay on Karegan Avenue, life slipping rapidly out of her hands, as those around her told her to not be afraid. Almost instantly and accidentally, Neda became the entire symbol and poster child for not only the protests and marches, but the reason why some millions of people have taken to the streets in Iran continuously for a week.

“Neda” soon became a trending topic on Twitter with outcries of outrage and support from all over the world. “Your death will not be in vain,” wrote a chef from Louisiana. “I will never forget Neda,” wrote another. “The American people support a free Iran. The tweets didn’t stop. “A dying Neda looks to the camera, and her pleading eyes capture the world’s attention. R.I.P.” “Neda died with her eyes open, I wonder how many of us live with our eyes closed.” Avatars that had been turned green in support of the Iranian protesters soon began inscribed with “Neda” and a heart broken in two.

In the span of three minutes in the early hours of Monday morning, thousands and thousands of tweets poured in for Neda.

Her death, not reported by state-controlled Iranian media was shown several times on CNN, both with and without censoring.

The screen shot from the grainy cellphone camera video that showed her slipping away was printed out and held up at rallies in support of those in Iran all over the world. In Los Angeles, which houses the largest Iranian population outside of Iran, protesters had added “This is Islamic democracy” to her photo and those of others killed during the marches.

In a powerful twist, Neda means “voice” or “calling” in Persian – and so the girl’s whose voice was taken from her, the girl who will never  be able to go to the movies with her friends, start a family or see what Iran is on the breaking point of accomplishing has become a symbol of “pro-democracy protesters battering the Islamic regime,” a regime that for 30 years thought it was in its people’s best interest to mix extremist and clouded ideologies of religion with the state.

The past seven days have truly been the week that shook Iran and made important dents in its brutal, oppressive and unjustified acts against its own people. Neda’s death has made sound waves across the entire world, and the thirst for democracy and freedom in Iran has only intensified since that tragic event.”If an innocent girl gets shot halfway across the world, does she make a sound? Yes the whole world hears her.” This was a phrase tweeted and re-tweeted throughout the weekend.

The most poignant tribute to Neda came from an Iranian blogger who wrote earlier about participating the demonstrations on Saturday, June 20 and who, although feared getting killed, expressed her desire to participate so that the next generation would know that they did everything they could to create a better future for them:

Yesterday I wrote a note, with the subject line “tomorrow is a great day perhaps tomorrow I’ll be killed.” I’m here to let you know I’m alive but my sister was killed…I’m here to tell you my sister died while in her father’s hands
I’m here to tell you my sister had big dreams…
I’m here to tell you my sister who died was a decent person… and like me yearned for a day when her hair would be swept by the wind… and like me read “Forough” [Forough Farrokhzad]… and longed to live free and equal… and she longed to hold her head up and announce, “I’m Iranian”… and she longed to one day fall in love to a man with a shaggy hair… and she longed for a daughter to braid her hair and sing lullaby by her crib…

my sister died from not having life… my sister died as injustice has no end… my sister died since she loved life too much… and my sister died since she lovingly cared for people…

Update: Great coverage of Neda’s story from the L.A Times

Update: Neda’s Facebook Page



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