Could one bullet take down the Iranian regime? When that bullet kills an innocent young woman and her last minutes are captured on cellphone and played over and over again on YouTube, it's possible.
Especially if the Iranian government continues to act with its current tone-deaf impulse to repression and denial. After Neda, it must be clear even to the mullahs that the world world is watching.
This video of Neda Neda Salehi Agha Soltan, 26, dying from an Iranian police bullet changes everything. And it's not just the footage itself; it's engendered so many YouTube responses that (once again) the conversation has escaped those who would seek to control it.
Watch her father with her face in his hands
Scream her name out to the sky
You will not defeat the people
When they learn that they can fly
Meanwhile, the government has ordered the family to take down their mourning posters, The Times reports. Seeking to stop the home from becoming a place of pilgrimmage, the authorities also banned the family from having a memorial service in a mosque.
And the Iranian courts are promising to "teach [protesters] a lesson," Reuters reports.
"Those arrested in recent events will be dealt with in a way that will teach them a lesson," the official IRNA news agency quoted senior judiciary official Ebrahim Raisi as saying on state television late on Monday. He said a special court was studying the cases.
"The rioters should be dealt with in an exemplary way and the judiciary will do that," Raisi said.
The killing and the response marks the end of the Iranian people's respect for the Supreme Leader, one Iran observer says. Bloomberg reports:
The killing took away any “vestige of respect” people had for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has called for an end to the protests and allied himself with Ahmadinejad, because “a spiritual leader should not be leading carnage,” said Haleh Afshar, a professor of politics and women’s studies at University of York.
There is no doubt the authorities have created a potent martyr in Neda, as evidenced on the blogs:
“He had a clear shot and could not miss her,” wrote a man who said he was a doctor and posted one of the videos showing Soltan’s death, referring to the gunman. “The impact of the gunshot was so fierce that the bullet had blasted inside the victim’s chest.”
“It could be me, simple as that,” said Zahra Khedri, a 24-year-old Iranian postgraduate student at the U.K.’s University of Essex. The video “will help us with the support we need. Ahmadinejad must not be recognized.”