Neda haunts me. Ever since her video first hit CNN playing in repetitive loops as breathless anchors issued disclaimers that her death might be too grizzly to watch.
Perhaps because she was so young and so beautiful. Perhaps because she was a woman (like me) in a country that politically & institutionally dehumanizes women (unlike mine). Perhaps because just a second ago she was alive and vibrant, like I am right now, and it took all of ten seconds for her life to be snuffed out.
Perhaps because I have no comprehension of what it takes to be Iranian, female and out on the open streets of Tehran, demanding justice and freedom, knowing all the while that even if I am not struck down right now by the Basij, machinery much more powerful than I am, can hunt me down and harm me in ways I cannot even begin to imagine.
I feel strangely connected to Neda. I feel as if she and I are interchangeable. It could have been me on that street, in the line of a sniper's fire. She could've been here, in a liberal, democratic country, typing about how brave she thought the Iranian people were. She is extraordinary not because she is one in a million. She is extraordinary because she is the million. And instead of sitting home and lamenting about the loss of her freedom, she chose to step out that day. She made a choice to add her voice to the million others. Because she just wanted the simple things. Like me.
"She was a person full of joy," the Los Angeles Times quotes her music teacher and close friend Hamid Panahi, who was among mourners at her family home. "She was a beam of light. I'm so sorry. I was so hopeful for this woman."
The second of three children, Soltan studied Islamic philosophy at a branch of Tehran's Azad University before deciding to take private classes to become a tour guide, hoping to ultimately lead Iranians on trips abroad, the L.A. Times reported.
She was reportedly passionate about traveling and had gone with friends to Dubai, Turkey and Thailand. The young Iranian was also an accomplished singer who was taking piano lessons, according to Panahi.
Soltan was not a hardcore activist, but had started attending the mass protests because she felt deeply outraged by the election results.