Rest in Peace, Neda Soltani

Iran Election Icon

Salaam everyone,

By now, I’m sure everyone has heard about Neda Agha Soltani, the Iranian woman who was shot to death during a protest in Iran on June 20th, 2009.  I’ll save my rant about why the western media all of sudden cares about Iranians/Muslims for later, but I just wanted to share a really important post written by Fatemeh Fakhraie at Muslimah Media Watch.  It’s a definite must-read and it expresses how offensive and disrespectful it is for western media, facebook users, and bloggers alike to over-publicize the blood-splattering images of this tragic incident.  Instead of seeing pictures of her like the one posted above, television and internet images are filled with her post-mortem pictures.

As some of you know, I don’t like posting images of the dead.  Western media has a bad reputation for over-publicizing images of victims when they’re killed by their own people, and not when they’re killed by U.S., British, and/or Israeli forces.  It offends me even more when I see Islamophobic bloggers post several pictures and video clips of Neda’s death while making political points.  Is that all she is to you?  Someone for you to exploit and say, “Look, look!  Islam is evil and barbaric”?  All human beings, like Neda, have value and deserve our attention.  Our Love and prayers should extend towards all humans, be they Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Taoist, Agonstic, Atheist, and so on.  The worst and most insulting thing we can do to the victims of such brutal murders is to exploit them.

Please visit Muslimah Media Watch and read the latest post.  It’s really important and deserves everyone’s attention.

We come from God, and to God do we return (Qur’an 2:156).  Love, peace, and light upon all.

10 thoughts on “Rest in Peace, Neda Soltani

  1. Chiara says:

    Thanks for the post and the link. It is true that the cable news networks are repeating the video of her death in a fetichist way, and certainly her “death mask” should not be her primary identification. In fact the photo you selected is the most natural one, rather even than those who show her wearing the headscarf.

    However, the stylized image of her bleeding face is a compelling one as an iconic statement of the brutality and oppression currently happening. I’m not sure whether it is a good or a bad thing that it no longer really looks like her; good for her dignity, perhaps bad, that she is reduced to this symbolic unlikeness. The image is representative of a cross between an Amnesty International poster and the famous Che Gueverra stylized photo.

    Alot of people are using her in their own name and claiming she would have wanted it so, when in fact she was a music student stuck in traffic with her music teacher, who got out fo the car because of the heat inside. An accidental martyr, if you will.

    I linked on your first post with the Iran flag, a very worthwhile interview 19 min. BBC interview(and article) with the Dr who tried to rescue her, and that debunks some of the myths about her death while adding sad new details. I would relink hear but it will come out of moderation there, or people can go to the BBC World news website and look under “Middle East” . The Dr is now a writer, editor. translator in London, and tells how he is “finished in Iran” because of this tragedy, and speaking up about it.

  2. The problem I have with this Chiara is that the western media ONLY cares about this because her own people killed her. If a U.S. bomb killed this woman, the media wouldn’t care at all. Over 1,400 people died in Gaza in December/January, over 60 people were killed two days ago in Iraq, and up to 80 were killed in Pakistan, how come we didn’t hear a single word about those victims?

    The media coverage of Iran is very superficial and it’s only because Mousavi supporters are rebelling against a regime that the Bush administration vilified and misrepresented for many years.

    I remember the stoning of Dua Aswad and people were posting her blood-splattering images and photos everywhere. Many of them were just trying to make their point on how why “we need to liberate” the Middle-East.

    There is nothing compelling about these images because it’s just about perpetuating the stereotypes and misconceptions that Iran is a evil, barbaric, and uncivilized place. This should be about HER, it should be about the Iranian people, but the western media doesn’t present it that way.

    i want to know the names of the Palestinians, Iraqis, Afghanis, Lebanese, Pakistanis, Somalians, Chechens, Kashmiris, Sri Lankans, and all the other victims of oppression, violence, and injustice. I want to know their stories too. I want to know their families too.

    People have the nerve to post bloody pictures of Neda Soltani when they don’t even know anything about Iran. They just see these images and immediately think they can identify with the current struggle. I hate getting sympathy phone calls from my uber-conservative pro-Bush friend’s mom who just asks me if I have friends “over there.” Why didn’t she call me when Gaza was bombed? Why didn’t she call me about Afghanistan and Pakistan? Why now? Do people really think that this is the only time a woman was killed? What about the thousands of young women who died in other countries?

    I have been dieing on the inside since 9/11. Since the bombing of Afghanistan and invasion of Iraq. I don’t need people to all of sudden express their support for me as if this is something new to me. People say “we were all Americans after 9/11.” No, on the very day of 9/11, I was on the receiving end of a racial slur from my classmate. Before I could even mourn and pray for the victims of the 9/11 attacks, I was treated like an “other” and a “terrorist.”

    I know what it’s like to weep and cry my eyes out for people I have never even met before. I know what it’s like to pray for them, write poems for them, make films for them, dedicate songs to them, and raise awareness about them. Many people in the west are just experiencing this now and for superficial reasons thanks to the media.

  3. Chiara says:

    Jehanzeb

    I think we are in agreement on the essence of this, that the American media (to limit it for discussion to the US) use these images for flagrant propagandizing whether compelled to (as they have been) by the government or not, and as always for what sells best, or rather holds up the ads with sufficient hysteria and tease value to encourage viewers to “stay tuned”.

    The reporting of events from abroad is so skewed that when the Oklahoma bombing happened I realized that the images were very familiar, except that most often they are shown with third world scenery and darker skinned faces. After 9/11, I had a phone conversation with a very compassionate, bright (MD MSc surgeon) friend that ran like this:

    Her: You know that war chant they do in the back ground?
    Me: War chant?

    Her: Yes, when they show the Palestinians demonstrating.
    Me: You mean the call to prayer? My FIL did that to pay his way through school.

    Her: Your husband is a Muslim (she’d known us both for years)? How can you be married?
    Me: Muslim men can marry Jewish or Christian women. You’re watching too much CNN.

    months later:

    Me: Are you still upset by the news coverage?
    Her: No, I stopped watching CNN.

    I agree that each life lost is precious, and that these losses are either not shown, not individualized, or distorted away from their original tragedy. I would add that the Israeli killing of Mohammed al-Dura has either been ignored by the media or denied. BTW, one of the most compelling evidences of the truth (for and American audience) is an article by a Jewish American woman who knew the father in Israel and vouched for his truthfulness, and transmitted the information given by Israelis about the veracity of his story.

    Coverage of “ours” being killed or wounded by “them” is potentially more biased, beatifying people like Daniel Pearl, and creating false heroes like Jessica Lynch (and false rescues orchestrated by Hollywood). Marianne Pearl was eventually vilified for her limited participation in the full media game, and Jessica Lynch, to her immense credit, debunked the myth as soon as she was well enough to do so. My favourite lines: “My gun jammed. I went down praying on my knees.”

    I also agree that especially in the US, and by extension Canada, the “reality on the ground” (a military phrase now in common usage that I hate) since 9/11 has changed radically for anyone who “looks like” one of “them”. Europeans who have visited the States are stunned by the ongoing preoccupation with 9/11 in the media and how they are treated at the airports. An independent Spanish filmmaker and her girlfriend who were touring North American short film festivals, told me the one was harassed on arrival in the US, because she looks dark, like an Andalusian/Arab, and spoke little English (in fact she is Galician, and therefore was initially offended when I suggested she looked Analusian–didn’t care about the Arab part, Spanish regional pride being more important to her).

    There is a phrase for superficial white sympathy, but it escapes me (in any language) for the moment.

    If I get started on the “Gazan offensive”, I’ll never finish this comment. Suffice it to say the following:
    1) It takes alot of chutzpah to deliberately bomb UN schools, UN humanitarian convoys with prior clearance, clearly marked Red Cross/Crescent medical vehicles, and any hospital.
    2) It takes alot to “annoy” the IRCC to the extent that they, who stayed neutral enough to deliver care packages to Nazi camps, publish a rebuke– no matter how diplomatically worded.
    3) There is something truly outrageous about a country that despite all other shocking behaviours (ignoring UN mandates, bombing US ships when the US doesn’t agree with them, tacitly having nuclear arms and not signing international nuclear agreements, occupying another people and applying the same Nazi tactics used against themselves, etc.) actually uses naphtalene in crowded places in flagrant breach of the Geneva Convention, and in such disguised form that a medical doctor wrote to the BBC begging for information confirming what it was and how to treat the injured, as only one foreign doctor could correctly identify it (they assumed), and their access to online medical databases had been cut off.
    4) To return to the theme of media coverage, one Palestinian Dr. whose home was bombed and daughters killed was given infinitely more coverage (though rightfully praised and supported), than another whose home, and mental health clinic/hospital was destroyed, and his daughter suffering acute traumatic stress disorder. Besides the difference in specialty, the first works in both Israeli and Palestinian hospitals, and the second has dedicated his life to the creation of the Gazan Community Mental Health Centre, research, educate, and treat Gazans, and to communicate to the world the psychological and social destruction of the Gazan/Palestinian people (he has been arrested and “interrogated” by both the Palestinians and the Israelis). He has an interesting and enlightening website under the clinic name as above.

    I hope I didn’t offend you by calling Neda’s stylized image “compelling”, as I tried to be clear it was a disservice to her (to say the least), yet may galvanize sufficient support (however superficial in its understanding) to impact American policy toward Iran in a more positive way.

    Well, with a sincere wish for a better future for Iran, and all who are traumatized, I think this opus magnus is about coming to a close.

    However, I can’t guarantee there will be no PS or PPS. LOL :)

  4. Hey Chiara,

    No, you didn’t offend me, I know what you meant. I’m sorry, I was just expressing my frustration with the media and this whole situation. It’s worse when Islamophobia gets thrown into the mix (I’ll elaborate more on that later, probably in another blog post).

    I Loved all of your points and was thinking how it would make an excellent blog post, especially about Muhammad Al-Dura. Sorry about my rant. It wasn’t directed at you.

  5. Chiara says:

    Jehanzeb

    No offense was taken. I was just concerned in retrospect that a politico-art analyis was a little premature.

    I didn’t consider your comment a rant, but rather a welcome elaboration and elucidation.

    A blog post on Muhammad Al-Dura would be excellent! Here is the link for the article by Helen Schary Motro in Salon, where she talks about knowing his father Jamal:

    http://archive.salon.com/news/feature/2000/10/07/jamal/

  6. RCHOUDH says:

    US MSM is indeed superficial; now they’ve given up any coverage on world events to dedicate enough time to MJ’s death. Unfortunately I think MJ’s death will only get bumped off only if and when North Korea decides to send missiles our way…

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