It’s great enough that TIME magazine’s “Man of the Year” is a woman, but it’s even better that she is Neda Soltan, the beautiful Persian protester struck down in the streets by a bullet courtesy of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Neda’s horrible, untimely murder – or “martyrdom,” as it has been deemed – has been used over the past several months as a rallying cry to overthrow the Iranian “dictator” and his “tyrannical” government. In addition, some non-Muslim and ex-Muslim Persians have gone so far as to agitate for the release of Iran from the clutches of classical – not “radical” or “extremist” – Islam itself.
It has also been claimed that, while she has been widely shown in a hijab, Neda herself was not a Muslim but appears to be wearing a cross in this image. What this apparent fact would mean, of course, is that – whether or not they know it – all of these agitators are fighting not for a Muslim martyr but for a murdered human being – indeed, a Christian.
In this regard, a number of Iranians have stated that if given the choice – rather than being oppressed under a possible death sentence for “apostasy” – they would immediately convert away from Islam, claiming that millions like them would follow suit. We can only hope for such a liberating movement for the much persecuted Persian people.
Neda Soltan was not political. She did not vote in the Iranian presidential election on June 12. The young student was appalled, however, by the way that the regime shamelessly rigged the result and reinstalled Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Ignoring the pleas of her family, she went with her music teacher eight days later to join a huge opposition demonstration in Tehran.
“Even if a bullet goes through my heart it’s not important,” she told Caspian Makan, her fiancé. “What we’re fighting for is more important. When it comes to taking our stolen rights back we should not hesitate. Everyone is responsible. Each person leaves a footprint in this world.”
Ms Soltan, 26, had no idea just how big a footprint she would leave. Hours after leaving home, she was indeed shot, by a government militiaman, as she and other demonstrators chanted: “Death to the dictator.”
Arash Hejazi, a doctor standing near by, remembers her looking down in surprise as blood gushed from her chest. She collapsed. More blood spewed from her mouth. As she lay dying on the pavement, her life ebbing out of her, “I felt she was trying to ask a question. Why?” said Dr Hejazi, who tried to save her life. Why had an election that generated so much excitement ended with a government that claims to champion the highest moral values, the finest Islamic principles, butchering its own youth?…