Like others around the world, I’ve been watching events unfold in Iran since the contested election more than a week ago. The pictures have been much like those we’ve seen from other protests, demonstrations, riots, and revolts — but with one notable difference. This time it hasn’t been just groups of young men in the streets. This time, women have been very evident as well.
Women in the front lines. Women marching with the men. Women taunting the police and running in the streets. And one young woman, 27-year-old Neda Agha-Soltan, being shot and killed. Her name means “voice” or “calling” in Farsi and she has been dubbed the “Angel of Iran” by her countrymen.
I heard a telephone interview on CNN with a woman in Tehran describing how she’d been beaten in the streets one day, but went back the next day anyway. And of how she’d been told to run away but refused, because her ankle had already been injured and she couldn’t run. When asked if she threw stones at the police, she explained that, no, she and other women gathered stones for the men to throw because the men, with their strength, could throw harder and farther.
I heard an Iranian man explain that they call these women shirzanan, meaning “lioness.” I cannot think of a greater tribute to their bravery and determination.