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In Iran, a Woman Named Neda Becomes Opposition Icon in Death

On YouTube, users posted tributes; one had written a song called "The Call of My Country."

"I swear on your last innocent look," a male voice sings, "that we will take back your vote from deceivers, that we will always confront oppressors, that we will continue your path for all eternity."

Agha Soltan was also featured on Iranian blogs. "It hit me, it hit me hard, but it wasn't sickness, it wasn't tiredness, it wasn't even shock," an Iranian blogger named Behrang Tajeldin, a mechanical engineer, said of the video. "It was the weight of that look, of that very last look, those eyes that stared at you from beyond eternity, those eyes which spoke of the tragedy that has betaken us all."

Martyrdom during periods of political turmoil has a history in Iran of driving further unrest, as Shiite Muslims commemorate the third, seventh and 40th days after the death.

In the period leading up to Iran's 1979 revolution, which toppled Western-backed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the burials of protesters who had been proclaimed to be martyrs, and the commemorations of their deaths, repeatedly brought people into the streets for a year before the shah's ouster.

An eyewitness reported that about 70 people gathered on Monday, the third day after Agha Soltan's death, at the Niloufar mosque in the middle-class Tehran neighborhood of Abbas Abad. On the mosque's doors, a leaflet said: "There is no commemoration here for Neda Agha Soltan." In the Islamic republic, all mosques are under state control. The mourners, most of them dressed in black, held up posters with a picture of Agha Soltan's bloodied face during a sit-in outside the mosque because they were not allowed in.

Some read poetry. "Her blood was spilled unjustly!" one woman yelled.

Soon a police colonel showed up, saying the mourners should leave.

"Why don't you defend us?" one mourner asked. "Why have you unleashed these attackers on us?"

Passersby -- some of them crying -- joined in and handed out dates, a traditional custom in Iran when someone dies.

After 10 minutes, 20 members of the Basij showed up on motorcycles and started threatening the mourners with clubs.

The mourners quickly dispersed, taking their posters with them.

"We will be back," one mourner said. "She will not be forgotten."

Special correspondent Kay Armin Serjoie contributed to this report.


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