Death of 'Neda' May Echo for Weeks in Iran
Lengthy Shia cycle of mourning martyrs often includes protests
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 22, 2009 6:40 AM CDT

(Newser) – It's not clear who killed the Iranian protester known as Neda, but footage of her gruesome shooting in the streets of Tehran may transform the demonstrations gripping Iran, Time reports. Shia Muslims mourn their dead three, seven, and 40 days after death, and Iranians often use those commemorations for protests. Neda is already being hailed as a martyr—a potent force in Shia Islam and Iranian politics.

In Shia Islam, protest and martyrdom are seen as duties to God—and in Iran, the world's largest Shia nation, the impact can be profound. During the 1978-1979 revolution, deaths triggered mass gatherings at 40-day intervals that eventually led to the shah's downfall. Similar patterns are emerging in this crisis: Last Thursday's rally, the largest so far, was called by Mir Hossein Mousavi to mourn protesters three days after their deaths.