• 24 September 2009
  • Posted By Matthew Negreanu
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Neda or Marwa?


CBS News Anchor Katie Couric interviewed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hours before his planned address to the UN on Wednesday evening. Ahmadinejad spoke on various issues including “his crackdown on election protesters.”

When Couric asked a question about Neda and her death, Ahmadinejad changed the subject.

Ahmadinejad on July 16 in a letter called on the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon to investigate the killing of Egyptian veiled lady Marwa el-Sherbini who was stabbed to death in a German courtroom. Iran issued a commemorative set of stamps (it is said only about 1000 sets were printed) to honor her “martyrdom.”

Many Iranian criticized the government for honoring an Egyptian martyr while simultaneously denouncing victims of its own repression like Neda Agha Soltan.

Read more for excerpts from Katie Couric’s interview:

Couric: During and after the presidential election, Mr. President, thousands of opposition supporters and journalists were arrested, badly beaten and tortured. Arrested, badly beaten and tortured. One woman – 27 year old Neda as you know, was shot to death while protesting. Her death was captured on a cell phone camera. Here is a shot of that cell phone picture which I’m sure you’ve seen.

Admadinejad: Correct.

Couric: What would you say to her family?

Ahmadinejad: We are – very sorry that one of our fellow citizens has been killed. As a victim of an – agitation of circumstance. An agitation that was carried out with the support of some American politicians, the voice of America, and the BBC.

Couric: Do you really think so little of your citizens that they can be manipulated and brainwashed by Americans and the UK?

Ahmadinejad: No. That is not what I’m saying. But I do say that some agitations from outside were there. I mean, there are plenty of documents pointing to that. Regrettably, one of our citizens lost her life–

The president then produced a photograph of an Egyptian woman – Marwa el-Sherbini – who was brutally murdered inside a German courtroom while taking part in a trial over the right to wear a hijab – or headscarf. He suggested that the western media – who turned Neda into a martyr – ignored Marwa’s story.

Posted By Matthew Negreanu

    6 Responses to “Neda or Marwa?”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Matthew, you’re being dishonest. Ahmadinejad did answer the question regarding the Neda incident. Afterwards, he went on to describe another incident involving the Egyptian woman.

    By the way, when I was a young person living in the 1960’s, many American student demonstrators were beaten by baton wielding police and a few even shot to death. Did they ever get their faces put on US postage stamps? No. And all the while, billions of dollars were being spent on South Vietnam, while we had the nerve to claim human rights violations were taking place behind the so-called Iron Curtain.

    Yes, the hypocrisy of it all.

  2. Saeed A says:

    Mr. or Mrs. anonymous, if you read the post it does not say that Amdaninejad did not answer, it simply says that “Ahmadinejad changed the subject.” And that is true. If you know Ahmadinejad, you also should know that his is a master in changing the subjects, and evading questions because he does not want to be trapped by the questions that he does not like. He did answer the question about Neda, but did not want to go through details because he would be blamed for that crime. He simply changed the subject after mentioning brifly about Neda’s death.
    Also, my question after this post is to compare what he (as president) or Iranian government have done for Neda (as an Iranian female martyr), and what they have done for Marva (as an Egyptian female martyr). It is nice to care for human rights for everybody, everywhere, but what about your people? Neda has the same rights as Marva’s.

  3. azadandish says:

    It is the interest of the Iranian regime to constantly divert attention to ‘crimes’ happening elsewhere. Obviously he got the news of Marwa’s death from the same western media which he accuses of stoking up the Neda story. The truth is that regime has made protests illegal in Iran (this is against the constitutional rights of Iranian citizens). Protestors have no rights – they can be beaten, imprisoned, prosecuted, jailed, murdered etc. What happens to them is dependent on political expedience.

  4. Aryan Ahmed says:

    The case of Neda and Marwa are same or may be not same, the fact is that they both died by the brutality of human(!) being. We should take all cases of violating the human rights rationaly, otherwise we all muslims, christians etc those are supporting our own community will be responsible for future incindents. We or our relatives, friends will be the victims of this type of brutality.

  5. Alex Bronson says:

    Ahmadinejad played Couric’s game (not that I like/agree with his stances, i don’t) but the interviews were not meant to be informative, just posturing / media jockeying

  6. James M says:

    you’re being dishonest, he didn’t change the subject he did answer to the comment about Neda. He then criticized Western media for sensationalizing news that makes Iranian government look bad. It’s called hypocrisy.

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Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
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Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.



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