Iranian Protesters for Freedom
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.