“A young woman who was standing aside with her father watching the protests was shot by a basij member hiding on the rooftop of a civilian house. He had clear shot at the girl and could not miss her. However, he aimed straight her heart. I am a doctor, so I rushed to try to save her. But the impact of the gunshot was so fierce that the bullet had blasted inside the victim’s chest, and she died in less than 2 minutes.”
Iran's revolution has now run through a full cycle. A gruesomely captivating video of a young woman — laid out on a Tehran street after apparently being shot, blood pouring from her mouth and then across her face — swept Twitter, Facebook and other websites this weekend. The woman rapidly became a symbol of Iran's escalating crisis, from a political confrontation to far more ominous physical clashes. Some sites refer to her as "Neda," Farsi for the voice or the call. Tributes that incorporate startlingly upclose footage of her dying have started to spring up on YouTube.
"Neda" is already being hailed as a martyr, a second important concept in Shiism. With the reported deaths of 19 people Saturday, martyrdom also provides a potent force that could further deepen public anger at Iran's regime. (See the Top Ten Players in Iran's Power Struggle.)
The belief in martyrdom is central to modern politics as well as Shiite tradition dating back centuries in Iran. It too helped propel the 1979 revolution. It sustained Iran during the eight-year war with Iraq, when over 120,000 Iranians died in the bloodiest modern Middle East conflict. Most major Iranian cities have a Martyrs' Museum or a Martyrs' cemetery.
The first Shiite martyr was Hussein, the prophet Mohammed's grandson. He believed it was better to die fighting injustice than to live with injustice under what he believed was illegitimate rule.
In the seventh century, Hussein and a band of fewer than 100 people, including women and children, took on the mighty Umayyad dynasty in Karbala, an ancient city in Mesopotamia now in modern-day Iraq. They knew they would be massacred.
Fourteen centuries later, Hussein's tomb in Karbala is one of the two holiest Shiite shrines — and millions of Iranians still make pilgrimages there every year. Just as Christians reenact Jesus' procession bearing the cross past the fourteen stops to Calvary before his crucifixion, so too do Shiites every year reenact Hussein's martyrdom in an Islamic passion play during the holy period of Ashura. (Read entire article)