Will Neda Agha-Soltan's Death Tip Iran Into "Revolution"?

Illustration for article titled Will Neda Agha-Soltan's Death Tip Iran Into "Revolution"?

As more information emerges about the tragic shooting of the young woman known as "Neda", her death has taken the protests in Iran to a new level — some are even making comparisons to the start of Iran's 1979 revolution.


"Neda," whose full name is said to be Neda Agha-Soltan, was fatally shot Saturday, allegedly by Iranian paramilitary forces, and her death was captured on a video that is now circulating widely on the web. While the banning of foreign journalists from Tehran still makes getting clear information difficult, sources say the young woman was a philosophy student born in 1982.

Blogger Nico Pitney says a rally commemorating her death is planned in central Tehran today, and that, "This could get explosive." An Iranian Twitter user agrees:

Soon Mousavi [the Iranian opposition candidate, whom the contested election results have declared the loser] will announce full national strikes, probably starting with Petrochemical - prepare for this... Expect food shortage - transport stoppage - money shortage in bank... Gov will respond with electric power cuts - prepare and have gas cylinders at home or gasoline for light/cooking... People of Iran - THIS IS THE DAWN - This is the new begining - have hope and prepare.

According to Time's Robin Wright, Iranian traditions of mourning and martyrdom — traditions also key to the 1979 Iranian revolution — are coming into play following Neda's death. Wright says,

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.


She also writes,

The commemorations for "Neda" and the others killed this weekend are still to come. And the 40th day events are usually the largest and most important.


Wright's article closes a with a reminder that the revolutionaries of 1979, who deposed the Shah and helped make Iran an Islamic republic, are now the ones in power, trying to quell revolution. "The revolutionaries exploited the deep passion about martyrdom as well as the timetable of Shiite mourning in whipping up greater opposition to Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi," she writes. "With the deaths of "Neda" and others, they may now find the same phenomena used against them." If this is true — if Neda's death does herald "a new beginning" for Iran, let's hope it's the beginning of freedom, and not just another skirmish in a thirty-year cycle of bloodshed. And let's hope — even though this seems unlikely — that no more demonstrators are hurt in their pursuit of this freedom.

In Iran, One Woman's Death May Have Many Consequences [Time]
Neda: An Unintended Symbol [CBS]
The Making Of A Martyr [Daily Dish]
In Iran, One Woman - Neda - Becomes A Symbol [USA Today]
TODAY'S NEWS [Mir Hossein Mousavi Official Site]
Neda [Crooks & Liars Video Cafe]
Iran Updates (VIDEO): Live-Blogging The Uprising [Huffington Post]


Earlier: "Neda Is My Daughter, I Have One Just Like Her"



The mourning cycle could continue in perpetuity. My main concern is whether the Shah is going to just up and ban all uses of communication devices in public period. No cameras. No phones. No one witnessing the senseless death of so many. It's their move now. I wonder what they'll do.