Advancing a Free Society

How Ahmadinejad’s Regime Tried–and Failed–to Break One Protestor’s Spirit

Friday, September 23, 2011

As the world grants an audience to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today at the U.N. General Assembly in New York, we would be better served to look upon Samiye Tohidlou. Samiye is a child of the Iranian revolution, born in 1979, when the current regime came to power. She comes from a family of educators; her father was a teacher who declared, after the arrest of his daughter, that he had been a staunch supporter of the revolution. Samiye was herself a doctoral student in sociology at Tehran University—the country’s oldest and most venerable institution—and an active member of the Islamic Student Association.

And she was a volunteer for Mir Hussein Mousavi’s presidential campaign in 2009. When the regime announced Ahmadinejad the winner even before the polls closed, in Tehran alone three million people took to the streets to protest what they considered to be an electoral putsch. Samiye had a brilliant and elegantly simple idea. She suggested that protesters create an uninterrupted chain of humanity, from Tehran’s rich, northern neighborhoods to the south’s poorest ghettoes. The only connective thread of this long chain was a green ribbon, symbolizing the movement that had emerged in opposition to the electoral coup.

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