MIPY 2009 Top of Slide

Most Inspiring Nominees of 2009

Iranian Protesters for Freedom

Iranian Protesters

The Call for Democracy Heard Around the World

They risked everything to stand up for freedom.

After Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad captured a second term in a highly questionable and disputed election, hundreds of thousands of Iranian citizens took to the streets. They called themselves the Green Movement. Many were beaten, arrested and ultimately sentenced to long prison terms and even death. Others, like Neda Agha-Soltan, 26, were shot by Iranian police for having the temerity to object to dictatorship. Perhaps as many as 72 people died on the streets of Tehran in the three months after the election.

The Iranian post-election protesters are nominated as Beliefnet's Most Inspiring People of the Year for their refusal to defer the dream of democracy and their willingness to sacrifice their personal freedom, and even their lives, to see it come to pass.

"I am fed up with the rigging of votes," Nargess Hassanpour, a 24-year-old architect, told the Los Angeles Times. "I am here and I march toward Azadi [Freedom] Square as far as I can reach, and let come what may."

No one knows how many protesters participated in the wake of the June 12 elections, in which opposition candidate Mir Hossein Moussavi claimed victory. The protests were the largest in that country in 30 years.

The protests, though more subdued in the last six months, have not died out. The Green Path of Hope is continuing to protest against Ahmadinejad's presidency and to follow lawful and peaceful methods to claim their constitutional rights.

All Nominee Top
 

Captain Sully
Capt. "Sully"
Sullenberger

Hero of the Hudson

 

Danny Cottrell
Danny Cottrell

Recession Angel

  Kaleb Eulls

Kaleb Eulls
Football Star Saves Lives

 

Zach Bonner
Zach Bonner

Helps Homeless Kids

  Jill and Kevin

Jill & Kevin Wedding
Wedding Dance for Donations

 

Jorge Munoz
Jorge Munoz

Feeding the Hungry

 

Griffeth-Illingworth
Griffeth &
Illingworth

Do-Gooder Officers

 

Paul Levy
Paul Levy

CEO Who Saved Jobs

 

Michael J. Fox
Michael J. Fox

Devoted Optimist

  Iranian Protestors

Iranian Protesters
Standing Up for Freedom

All Nominee Bottom
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Meet the Winner: Zach Bonner
  • zach bonner most inspiring person

    Zach in Action

    Photos and audio interview with an extraordinary boy making a difference in other children's lives.

  • Zach Bonner

    Read the Interview

    Our winner shares what motivates him, what he wants to be when he grows up, and more.

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