Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Neda’s 40 Days

Tomorrow marks the 40th day following the murder of Neda Agha Soltan on June 20. As has been discussed previously, the 40th day following a person’s death is of particular significance in Shiite Islam. During the 1979 Revolution, 40th day demonstrations provided an excuse and an umbrella under which all the disparate components of that opposition could appear in the streets together. As Robin Wright pointed out earlier this week, during the 1979 Revolution, 40th day demonstrations frequently led to the death of demonstrators, begetting further demonstrations. The 40th day demonstrations gave that revolution a rhythm; they also provided a means for building and sustaining the revolution’s momentum. The traditional, religious and cultural significance of 40th day mourning insulates it to a great degree from interference by the regime.

The 40th day following Neda’s murder will provide an excellent marker for measuring the durability of the current uprising in Iran. While articles declaring the end of the uprising or describing its entrance into a new phase have proliferated since the massive street gatherings have ebbed – despite the periodic, large demonstrations – I believe the current Iranian uprising is simply operating on a time-frame that does not comport to the news cycle we’ve become accustomed to.

Mousavi has endeavored to secure permission to hold a mourning demonstration. NIAC reports that both Mousavi and Karroubi will attend a memorial service at Neda’s grave in Tehran, tomorrow. It is likely that tomorrow will beget further 40 day demonstrations.

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