BY Helen Kennedy
Her name is Neda, which means "voice" in Farsi, and her death has become the central rallying cry of the Iranian rebellion. The fresh-faced teenage girl killed by what appears to be a single sniper shot on the streets of Tehran Saturday is now a potent symbol for Iran's pro-democracy protesters.
Her shocking and quick death in the arms of her howling father was captured on closeup video, posted to Facebook and came to life on computer screens across the globe.
"RIP Neda, the world cries seeing your last breath," was one of a flood of messages on Twitter.
"They killed Neda, but not her voice," read another. "Neda is everyone's sister, everyone's daughter, everyone's voice for freedom," said a third.
Within hours of her death, posters of the girl's face, open-eyed and bloody, were being brandished by demonstrators in Los Angeles and New York City.
The graphic video was originally posted to Facebook by an Iranian expatriate in Holland who said it was sent to him by a friend in Tehran, a doctor who tried to save the girl.
He identified her as Neda Soltani, a 16-year-old philosophy student.
A Facebook group created to mourn her calls her "The Angel of Iran."
In Tehran on Sunday, the streets were quiet for the first time in a week, but the city was bracing for more unrest today when thousands are expected to mourn the girl's death.
"To protest against lies and fraud is your right," opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi told his followers in a statement.
"Be hopeful in exercising your rights and do not allow those who try to instill fear in you to make you angry."
An ABC reporter in Dubai said she was told the girl was rapidly buried to forestall a funeral rally.
In the holy city of Qom, turmoil was reported among the ruling clerics. There were reports that some dissident clerics were trying to replace the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The regime is under threat after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won a suspiciously huge landslide in the June 12 election, sparking accusations of vote rigging and days of mass protests.
Saturday's brutal crackdown, in which at least a dozen people were killed and hundreds wounded, hardened opposition to the supreme leader as well as Ahmadinejad.
In apparent retaliation, the daughter of powerful former President Hashemi Rafsanjani and four of his other relatives were arrested and held for a day, according to state TV.
State radio said Monday that 457 people were arrested in the clashes.
Rafsanjani's kin were held for a day for their own protection, but it was seen in most quarters as a clear warning to curb his support for Mousavi.
Rafsanjani, 75, is chairman of the Assembly of Experts that has the power to remove the supreme leader and is Mousavi's most powerful ally.
Reporters Without Borders said 33 Iranian journalists and bloggers have been arrested even as the foreign press was barred from the streets .
"The regime has been visibly shaken by its own population. That is why the media have become a priority target," Reporters Without Borders said.
State TV blamed "terrorists" for the street violence.
BBC Persia aired extraordinary video of a crowd of stone-throwing youths on Saturday slowly advancing on a cadre of well-armed police with riot shields, finally forcing the security forces to turn tail and run.
BBC's lead reporter in Tehran was subsequently told he had 24 hours to leave the country.
A Life.com magazine photographer was missing, and a Newsweek reporter arrested.
Germany called for a revote, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy called the crackdown on peaceful protest "inexcusable."
As the Neda video ignited fury and tears, several new Twitter accounts were opened dedicated solely to insisting the video was fake. The posters were roundly shouted down as tools of the Iranian regime.
One of the many other videos of the Tehran protests uploaded to YouTube captured the girl in the last moments of her life, standing on a curb with her silver-haired father, watching the protesters go by.
In a country where martyrdom is a matter of great import and mourning marches often mix with protests, the girl's very public death has the potential to be a galvanizing event.
Tags: Iran, violence