Roya Hakakian emigrated from Iran to the United States in 1985, seeking political asylum. Author, activist and filmmaker Hakakian discussed political upheaval in Iran on public radio today. Her interview is available online atWHYY’s “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross.
Hakakian grew up Jewish in Tehran, an experience she recounts in her memoir Journey from the Land of No: A Girlhood Caught in Revolutionary Iran. Hakakian will return to “Fresh Air” next week to discuss her book with Terry Gross.
Hakakian recently published a piece at CNN.com entitled, “Pray for Neda,” in which she reflects on the significance of the recent fatal tragedy in Iran’s political upheaval, as an example of the Iranian people’s 30 year quest for freedom. Hakakian calls for a memorial campaign that spans all religions lines to remember Neda.
Pray for Neda
by Raya Hakakian
With Neda’s death, the Iran I know finally has a face. The sequence of her death is the sequence of our nation’s struggle in the past 30 years: The democratic future that 1979 was to deliver collapsing, then trails of blood — that of so many executed or assassinated — streaming across its bright promise. The film of Neda’s death is the abbreviated history of contemporary Iran.
If history is a contest among competing narratives and icons, let the image of a young woman lying on the ground endure as that of Iran today. Let it loom so large to wipe away the memory of the thugs marching American hostages out of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Let the scarf that loosens and falls off her head to expose her dark hair be emblazoned in our memories as the metaphor for the plight of Iran’s women.
Here in the United States, I hope you join me and thousands of my compatriots in a memorial campaign for Neda by asking your religious and spiritual leaders to include a prayer for Neda and other fallen Iranians of the recent days in this week’s services.
For 30 years, Iran’s regime has appropriated God. Let us reclaim God from those who deny a family the right to properly mourn the death of their child through our prayers and help bring peace to a tormented nation.
Read the full article here.
A 2008 Guggenheim fellow, Hakakian is a founding member of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center and a fellow at Yale University’s Whitney Humanities Center. Her most recent film, commissioned by UNICEF, is Armed and Innocent, a documentary about child soldiers in wars around the world.