After watching the video my brother’s eyes were full of tears. I was too incensed to cry. But not everyone was disturbed by the video.
“That’s what comes from pouring into the streets,” was my mother’s casual reaction when I showed her the clip. My mother is hardly a callous person. On Friday, when the Supreme Leader declared in his nationally broadcast sermon that he is willing to give his life for “upholding Islam,” my mother—like most people listening, including a prayer hall filled with grown men—wept.
She was not touched by the video of Neda because it was not compatible with her essential presumptions. She cannot believe, for instance, that a Basij member could kill an innocent girl. To my mother, Basij members are the embodiment of everything admirable: They are deeply religious and completely devoted to the Supreme Leader. Their demeanor resembles that of the “martyrs”—those killed during the Iran-Iraq war. My mother’s brother was a young Basij member who was killed during the war. She could not believe someone so much like her brother could have murdered an innocent girl.