Iran’s revolution has now run through a full cycle. A gruesomely captivating video of a young woman — laid out on a Tehran street after apparently being shot, blood pouring from her mouth and then across her face — swept Twitter, Facebook and other websites this weekend. The woman rapidly became a symbol of Iran’s escalating crisis, from a political confrontation to far more ominous physical clashes. Some sites refer to her as “Neda,” Farsi for the voice or the call. Tributes that incorporate startlingly upclose footage of her dying have started to spring up on YouTube.
Although it is not yet clear who shot “Neda” (a soldier? pro-government militant? an accidental misfiring?), her death may have changed everything. For the cycles of mourning in Shiite Islam actually provide a schedule for political combat — a way to generate or revive momentum. Shiite 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. [continued...]
* The photograph above, circulating on Twitter, is said to be Neda’s passport photograph.
Editor’s Comment — It seems tragically fitting that images of a dying young women will become the icon of what in so many ways is a women’s revolution.
Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, the most important living cleric in Iran, and one of the most outspoken foes of the conservatives and hard-liners, has issued a statement about the attacks of the security forces on the demonstrators and the resulting casualties.
In the name of God
We all come from Him and will go back to Him
The great and dignified Iranian nation:
With much sorrow I was informed that, during peaceful rallies to defend their lawful rights, the great Iranian people have been attacked [by the security forces], beaten, and bloodied, and killed. While expressing my condolences for this painful event and the losses, and feeling the pain of the nation, I declare Wednesday [June 24], Thursday and Friday days of national mourning. I express my strongest support for the Muslim nation [of Iran] in their defense of their rights in the framework of the Constitution that recognizes republicanism [direct and free elections, and respect for the votes] as one of the pillars of the [political] establishment, and declare that any action that would harm the republicanism of the system is not permitted [is against religion]. Every one of our religious brothers and sisters must help the nation in defending its lawful rights. Based on this principle, any resistance in this direction [against people who are defending their right], particularly use of violence, beating, and killing of [the people of] the nation is acting against the Islamic principle that the nation must decide its own fate and path and, therefore, I declare it to be religiously haraam [the worst sin].
Hossein Ali Montazeri [continued...]