Monday, June 22, 2009

Neda martyr?

The story of an Iranian woman who was allegedly shot and killed during a protest in Iran has me intrigued:
(all quotes from
Amateur video of a young Iranian woman lying in the street — blood streaming from her nose and mouth — has quickly become an iconic image of the country's opposition movement and unleashed a flood of outrage at the regime's crackdown.

The footage, less than a minute long, appears to capture the woman's death moments after she was shot at a protest — a powerful example of citizens' ability to document events inside Iran despite government restrictions on foreign media and Internet and phone lines.

The limits imposed amid the unrest over the disputed June 12 election make details of the woman's life and events immediately preceding her apparent death difficult to confirm. She has been identified in the video clips as 'Neda' but it's impossible to confirm her name, or even if the widely distributed video was taken in Tehran during the unrest.
When I first read the story at, my first thought was "Joan of Arc". Apparently, I was not the only one:
Thousands of people inside and outside Iran have written online tributes to the woman, many condemning the government and praising her as a martyr. Some posted photos of a gently smiling woman they said was Neda, some calling her "Iran's Joan of Arc."

It is hard to say what the reality is behind Neda, since none of the news services seem to be able to confirm the details of this woman's life. For all we know, she may have been a woman who happened to be walking near a protest, and was killed by a stray bullet. Or she might not even be Iranian at all, and the videos were shot somewhere else.

However, the perception of this woman by Iranians is the important factor here. While the protesting Iranians will undoubtedly hold Neda up as a martyr, what will the average Iranian think? Will this enrage them, or will they just go on with their day to day lives?

The Iranians will see what they wish in Neda. If they want a martyr, they have one. If not, then her death is meaningless to them. Either way, the Iranian government hangs in the balance of their perception.

There are no facts, only interpretations. - Friedrich Nietzsche

No comments: