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'God, Let Me Die Standing': Remembering Mohammad Mokhtari

by DAN GEIST

17 Feb 2011 12:29Comments

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Martyr: "a person who sacrifices something of great value and esp. life itself for the sake of principle."

[ memorial ] Mohammad Mokhtari, a 22-year-old university student, died on Tuesday from a gunshot wound he suffered while participating in Tehran's pro-democracy demonstrations the previous day. He is the second person confirmed to have lost his life as a result of the 25 Bahman protests, following Saneh Jaleh. As in the case of Jaleh, the Islamic Republic regime has undertaken an intensive propaganda campaign to claim him as a government supporter, a campaign that has yet to account for the young man's final posting on his Facebook page: "God, let me die standing, because I'm tired of this life of degradation."

Still, the faithful employees try. In an article titled "Funeral Processions Held for Two Martyrs of Illegal Demos," the Tehran Times, the regime's primary -- if nominally independent -- English-language print organ, attributed his death, like Jaleh's, to "rioters," evidently adopted as the official codeword for the 25 Bahman protestors:

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Funeral processions for martyrs Sane' Jalleh and Mohammad Mokhtari, who died as a result of injuries received during the illegal demonstrations in central Tehran on Monday, were held in the Iranian capital on Wednesday.

Thousands of people, including several senior Iranian officials, attended the funeral processions.

According to witnesses, Jalleh, Mokhtari, and two other people were shot by rioters during the unrest on Monday. Jalleh succumbed to his injuries on the same day, and Mokhtari died on Tuesday.

Press TV, the English-language subsidiary of the state broadcasting network, similarly framed the story this way, "In the Iranian capital Tehran, anti-government groups, including members of the anti-Iran terrorist group Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO), have staged riots, killing two people."

The cultic MKO is not generally regarded to have any effective presence within Iran now, though its lingering existence in refugee camps in Iraq and a rump "exile parliament" in Europe serves the propaganda purposes of both the Islamic Republic's regime, which promotes the MKO as a neverending mortal threat to the Iranian people and therefore justifies all sorts of militarization measures, and certain American politicians, who apparently fantasize that the group can help depose that regime and restore Iran to its meet role as a U.S. ally.

Farnaz Fassihi actually spoke with Mokhtari's family and friends and here is what she reported for the Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Mokhtari, described as strikingly handsome with jet black hair and big eyes, came from a large middle class family, and loved sports. He hiked on weekends and played soccer and basketball, friends say. He had a good sense of humor and relished the Iranian political satire show Parazit, aired on Voice of America and modeled after the Comedy Central's Daily Show With Jon Stewart, according to his Facebook postings.

His Facebook postings are nearly all about encouraging friends to join the antigovernment protests on Monday. Before he headed out to the demonstrations, he posted "Happy Valentine's Day," and then posted a funny video of an Iranian woman dancing.

Both [he and Jaleh] were shot by men on motorcycles that their friends say bore the hallmarks of the Basij.

After Mr. Mokhtari was shot, he briefly fell to the ground but got up and continued marching for a while as blood soaked his shirt, witnesses said. He said he was fine, according to [a] friend, but died in the hospital the next day.

In mere physical terms, he thus departed this life in a hospital bed. In truth, by contrast, he surpassed even his own proud wish to die standing. Mohammad Mokhtari died marching.

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