Neda, Is She Iran's Joan of Arc?

Neda has become a symbol and martyr for the Iranian opposition.

ByABC News
June 22, 2009, 9:36 AM

BEIRUT, June 22, 2009 — -- She sinks to the ground -- and a few minutes later she is dead. A video that has been repeatedly posted on the Internet purports to show the last moments of Neda, a young Iranian woman shot in the heart by government sharpshooters. Overnight she has become a symbol of the opposition.

They are shaky, blurred images: A young woman collapses onto the pavement, a dark pool of blood spreads beneath her body. Two men kneel next to the woman and press on her chest, screaming. The camera phone which is filming her zooms in on her face. Her pupils roll to the side, blood streams out of her nose and mouth. "Neda, don't be afraid! Neda, stay with me. Neda, stay with me!" cries one man. Another man beseeches someone to take her in a car. Then the footage stops.

It cannot be confirmed if the 40-second film, which was posted on the Internet on Saturday, really shows the death of a young Iranian demonstrator. Like almost all the video and photo material coming out of Iran these days, it is impossible to verify its authenticity.

However, even if it may never be certain if these images really show the death of a young woman named Neda, she has still become an icon, a martyr for the opposition in Iran. Neda has given the regime's brutality a bloody face and a name. Overnight "I am Neda," has become the slogan of the protest movement.

The video footage appeared on the social networking sites Facebook and Twitter on Saturday evening. It immediately became a viral sensation, being forwarded repeatedly. User groups were determined to get around YouTube's attempts to block the immensely graphic film. They posted the clip so often that it became impossible for YouTube to remove it.

The first postings were furnished with a commentary. A supposed eyewitness described what was happening. He gave details, presumably in order to underscore the clip's veracity. The incident occurred on the Karekar Avenue, at the corner of Khoravi Street and Salehi Street in Tehran at 7:05 p.m. local time, he reported.