Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Street in Tehran Named After an American Woman

We approved a street in Tehran to be named after Rachel Aliene Corrie in the Tehran City Council last Tuesday. This street was named after an American activist who was crushed to death by an Israeli military bulldozer in the Gaza Strip in 2003.
Corrie, a pro-Palestinian activist from Washington, was trying to prevent what she and other campaigners believed was a push by the Israeli military to demolish nearby Palestinian homes. She was 23 at the time of her death. I think this was the first time an Iranian street has been named after a US national since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Before the Revolution, we had at least three high streets in the Iranian capital which were named after former US presidents: Dwight Eisenhower, John F Kennedy and Franklin Roosevelt. They were all changed to revolutionary names later. Eisenhower was changed to Azadi or freedom. Roosevelt was changed to Mofatteh , a revolutionary figure martyred in that street. Now we have a street named after an American citizen, not a President, but a hero and martyr for humanity. Considering the recent news that the Israeli government has approved 1600 new houses to be built in occupied Jerusalem , this decision of the Tehran Council is a strong sign of ongoing support for Palestinians . Nevertheless, considering the escalation of violence in Syrian cities many Iranians also sympathize with Syrian protesters , many feel that they have much in common with them.
On a similar move, I made a proposal last week to name a street after Ameneh Bahrami the Iranian woman who pardoned the convict who had sprayed acid in her face and had permanently disfigured her face and left her blind. She pardoned him only after the man was convicted  and was set for Ghesas meaning legal compensation or retribution in which he would be blinded with acid. Ameneh made it clear that she wanted this to be a lesson for men who practiced this inhuman act.  She also  has set a mark for those who did not understand that in pardoning and forgiveness there were great  lessons for all. "She is a heroine who deserves recognition", I said in the Council . "The Iranian society needs compassion and forgiveness above all , we need to disseminate the message of forgiveness in order to confront the hatred and violence in our society." I noted.

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