Neda Soltan - the woman who became a freedom icon in death

LONDON - Anguish and angst… a young Iranian woman who bled to death on a Tehran pavement after being shot at has become the symbol of a new Iran for hundreds of netizens who have flooded networking sites with their postings.

Neda Soltan, 26, was shot in the chest Saturday during an anti-government demonstration against the presidential election that voted Mahmoud Ahmedinejad back to power. As she fell to the ground on the crowded Tehran street, her last moments were captured on a mobile phone.

Within minutes, the 35-second video clip found its way to YouTube and Facebook - bypassing the stringent measures taken by the Iranian authorities to curb the flow of information.

Immediately afterwards, several groups formed in Facebook with people all over the world expressing their deep anguish over the incident.

The name Neda means “voice” or “calling” in Farsi and she has been called the “voice of Iran”, “the angel of Iran” and “the Iranian lioness”.

“I felt angry, I felt injustice, I could not sleep nor eat or do anything but in my mind have this image of her on my mind. My Iranian brothers and sisters when I saw this video clip my heart skipped beats, I was shocked, I could not cry or do anything I was frozen in time,” a member wrote Wednesday.

Another posted: “This young womans death may cause the birth of a new Iran… at least we can hope for as much.”

Said Nicholas Vester: “The Iranians are a spectacular people! Well-educated, refined culturally and one of the ancient civilizations! You deserve so much better than the present situation in your country… May God be with you in your struggle, and may you obtain freedom and peace and justice…”

Added Pourang Azad: “Neda was a young woman who lost her life on the streets of tehran, may this video be a wake up call for those, who are responsible for her death!!!!”

On that fateful Saturday afternoon, Hamed, an Iranian asylum seeker in the Netherlands, took a frantic call from a friend in Tehran.

“A girl has just been killed right next to me,” the Guardian quoted his friend as saying.

Hamed’s friend, who requested anonymity, is the one who filmed the incident on his phone. Within moments the footage had landed in Hamed’s inbox. Minutes later, the world saw the clip and soon thereafter, “it had become one of the most potent threats faced by the Iranian regime in 30 years”.

Hamed said: “It shocked me very, very much and I was sure at that time everyone in the world if they see this movie they’ll be shocked, and I felt that I must broadcast it because I try to show to the world what is going on in my country.”

The short video clip shows blood spreading across the face of Neda Soltan as her eyes stay open, staring blankly towards the mobile phone.

“For the authorities, it was clearly unsettling. They quickly moved to ban the victim’s family from holding an Islamic funeral, apparently for fear of creating a figure that could unite and revive the battered opposition,” the Guardian reported June 22.

Her fiance, Caspian Makan, said she had been in a car in central Tehran with her music teacher when they were caught in a traffic jam. He said the pair had left the car to escape the heat. It was when she was walking down Karegar Street talking on her phone that the shot rang out, sounding the death knell.

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