Neda Soltani or Neda Soltan (1982-June 20, 2009)


This is supposedly her passport photo, but, of course, these things are hard to verify. The video is below. As I’m sure nearly everyone knows by now, this is a very graphic video:

Andrew Sullivan links to the e-mail:

“At 19:05 June 20th Place: Karekar Ave., at the corner crossing Khosravi St. and Salehi st. 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. The protests were going on about 1 kilometers away in the main street and some of the protesting crowd were running from tear gass used among them, towards Salehi St.

The film is shot by my friend who was standing beside me. Please let the world know.”

Robin Wright in Time:

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.

Allah Pundit:

Word on the street via one Iranian tweeter is that her name was Neda Agha Soltan. That’s also the name circulating on a few websites and now being attributed to her in a hastily arranged Wikipedia bio. The rumor — and it’s all rumor until some newspaper tracks down her family — is that she was 27 years old and a philosophy student. I hope to god this isn’t really her photo because the thought of her being so beautiful and dignified makes the murder somehow that much more obscene.

Michelle Malkin

Rod Dreher:

Well, Khamenei and his bunch are in real trouble now. They’ve killed a young woman, and it was caught on video, and she has a name, and her name, allegedly, is Neda (“the calling”). They’ve made a martyr.

Kevin Drum

Melody Moezzi on CNN:

Roger Cohen in NYT:

That threat had already been rammed home Saturday evening, when a student named Neda Agha Soltan was killed by a single shot. Her last moments were captured on video that has gone global. Martyrdom is a powerful force in the world of Shia Islam. Mourning on the 3rd and 7th and 40th days after a death form a galvanizing cycle.

Neda is already another name for the anger smoldering here, whose expression, in my experience, has been bravest, deepest and most vivid among women. She could become Iran’s Marianne.

Tehran, cradled in its mountainous amphitheater, is holding its breath. Sunday was quiet and Monday dawned quiet but between them the defiant cries of “Death to the dictator” and “Allah-u-Akbar” reverberated between high-rises once again.

Peter Daou at HuffPo:

I had the misfortune of witnessing several Neda’s during my years in Beirut, young men and women who sacrificed everything to defend their land and their loved ones. One lesson I learned is that seeing human savagery and suffering up close, we understand that our distance from other people’s pain is an illusion – when one person suffers, we all do.

It’s beyond tragic that we need symbols like Neda to wake us up to the heinous crimes perpetrated against women and children (and men and boys) in every corner of the world, that a ‘viral’ video depicting the horrific pain that people endure is the only way we summon the necessary focus and will and outrage to finally tackle the profound injustices that grip the globe.

Sometimes – most of the time – a calm, measured approach is the right one, but there are times when we need bold acts that emanate from our core, thunderous words to condemn evil and injustice, steely-eyed confidence that doing the right thing is better than doing the pleasing thing. We are living in those times.

Neda reminds us that some things are worth sacrificing for, that the ills of the world are viscerally real, that what is needed most is moral clarity and the unbending will to right what is wrong, even if it isn’t the most politically pragmatic thing to do.


Just like the image of a man standing in front of a tank brigade became the lasting image of the Tiananmen Square protests in China, the video of Neda, her eyes growing ever more vacant by the second as her spirit leaves her body and climaxing with blood pouring from her orifices, is destined to become the image that few of us who saw/see it will ever forget. What happens next in the movement is the question. Will Neda’s death galvanize the Iranian revolutionaries who’ve spent the past week protesting against the religious conservatives who control their government and rigged the recent presidential election in their favor, or will Neda’s death scare enough of them into submission to allow the government to effectively squash the movement?


This Facebook memorial page contains very disturbing images and graphics, as well as a poster on which is written the words, “I cannot stop crying over her.”

RIP NEDA, The World cries seeing your last breath, you didn’t die in vain. We remember you.” That Twitter post was from a man who said he is a guitarist from Nashville, TN, CNN reports.

The Tweets for Neda

Bhfrik at Daily Kos:

Iranians celebrate Fathers Day on the Birthday of the 1st Shiite Imam, which is the 13th day of Rajab.  This year Iranians will celebrate Fathers Day on July 6th of the Gregorian calendar.

But it is Fathers Day in America as I write this, and as a father I am haunted by the video of Neda, dying in her fathers arms as he crys out “Neda, stay with me. Neda stay with me!”


CBS showed this poster this morning. Newsbusters was not happy. Mark Finkelstein:

Who says Pres. Obama isn’t backing the Iranian uprising strongly enough?  Why, supporters of the struggle have chosen to immortalize Neda, the young student reportedly slain by the current regime, by creating a poster of her in the style of the iconic Obama poster made famous during his presidential campaign.

Might that have been CBS’s subliminal message this morning?  Of all the possible posters of the fallen girl who has become the symbol of the Iranian uprising, the Early Show chose the one displayed here in the unmistakeable style Shepard Fairey used to create his Obama poster [displayed after the break].

UPDATE: Ulrike Putz in Salon

UPDATE #2: Michael Goldfarb in TWS

John Hinderaker at Powerline

UPDATE #3: Telmah Parsa in Daily Beast

UPDATE #4: I changed the title because there’s been various reports of her name being Soltan.

Borzou Daragahi in the LA Times:

Neda Agha-Soltan was born in Tehran, they said, to a father who worked for the government and a mother who was a housewife. They were a family of modest means, part of the country’s emerging middle class who built their lives in rapidly developing neighborhoods on the eastern and western outskirts of the city.

Like many in her neighborhood, Neda was loyal to the country’s Islamic roots and traditional values, friends say, but also curious about the outside world, which is easily accessed through satellite television, the Internet and occasional trips abroad.

The second of three children, she studied Islamic philosophy at a branch of Tehran’s Azad University, until deciding to pursue a career in the tourism industry. She took private classes to become a tour guide, including Turkish language courses, friends said, hoping to some day lead groups of Iranians on trips abroad.

Travel was her passion, and with her friends she saved up enough money for package tours to Dubai, Turkey and Thailand. Two months ago, on a trip to Turkey, she relaxed along the beaches of Antalya, on the Mediterranean coast.

She loved music, especially Persian pop, and was taking piano classes, according to Panahi, who is in his 50s, and other friends. She was also an accomplished singer, they said.

But she was never an activist, they added, and she began attending the mass protests only because of a personal sense of outrage over the election results.

The BBC interviewed her fiance.

Daniel Drezner:

We can and should argue about the ability of the Iranian state to contain the effects of new media technologies.  In a strategic sense, however, the government has already failed with the posting of the Neda videos.  They’ve given the opposition a focal point around which to rally.

To repeat a theme:  this does not mean that Ahmadinejad and Khamenei will fall from power (See:  Tank Man, Goddess of Democracy).  What it means is that even if they maintain their grip on power, they have lost all of their legitimacy.

UPDATE #5: Kate Harding in Salon:

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t watch and link and retweet. But it does probably mean we should be awfully wary of enjoying a frisson of self-congratulation when we do, or getting so swept away by the emotional momentum of someone else’s fight — I’ve seen several bloggers express excitement and even a twisted sort of envy while watching the intensity of the Iranian people’s passionate political engagement — that we lose sight of just how much we don’t know and are not actually experiencing. We are not obligated, as compassionate people, to watch the video of Neda’s death, but I think we are obligated to acknowledge that not watching, not being there, is an incredible luxury. I am not Neda. Neda is not my daughter. And I am profoundly fortunate to be able to say those things.

Ann Althouse

UPDATE #6: Anne Applebaum in Slate

Kevin Drum

UPDATE #7: NYT Video

UPDATE #8: Several posts at Double X:

Hanna Rosin

Dana Stevens

Susannah Breslin

Meghan O’Rourke

Emily Bazelon


Filed under Middle East

3 responses to “Neda Soltani or Neda Soltan (1982-June 20, 2009)

  1. James Meredith

    It’s after viewing insane acts like the killing of Neda that make me so thankful that I live in America. I hope the protestors can change the corrupt and vile leaders in their country. I hope it doesn’t come to that here in the U.S. God Bless you Neda. I hope the killer pays for his sins.

  2. Pingback: What We’ve Built Today « Around The Sphere


    “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 still had trouble understanding what the Basij member doing on the rooftop? , the ones at the streets I understand
    Nevertheless, We all must remember her name (Neda Agha-Soltan), because so far we miss naming the five millions victims “we” kill in the “War on Terror” fiasco in Afghanistan and Iraq , also the 1,400 the Israeli slaughtered in Gaza last January.
    In any coming stage of war our measure of credibility for any source is naming names and specifying the Collateral Damage.
    As a matter of fact my heart is broken for Neda and her family , and I hope this will end peacefully by sacking AhmedNijad and his dady Khaminie , because their discourse and their image in the media will help “us” make the next war more easy and more digestable , but not less criminal

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