Over the past couple of days the world has been captivated by the death of a young woman, Neda, who was gunned down on a Tehran street by Iranian forces. Now details about her are beginning to emerge.
Her full name was Neda Agha-Soltan. Iranian security forces have forbidden her friends and family from speaking to the press about her life and death, even going so far as forcing them to remove the black mourning banners hanging in front of their house, but the LA Times was able to get comments from a few people who knew her and piece together some background on her, as well as what happened on Saturday when she was killed.
Neda Agha-Soltan was born in Tehran, they said, to a father who worked for the government and a mother who was a housewife. They were a family of modest means, part of the country's emerging middle class who built their lives in rapidly developing neighborhoods on the eastern and western outskirts of the city.
Like many in her neighborhood, Neda was loyal to the country's Islamic roots and traditional values, friends say, but also curious about the outside world, which is easily accessed through satellite television, the Internet and occasional trips abroad.
The second of three children, she studied Islamic philosophy at a branch of Tehran's Azad University, until deciding to pursue a career in the tourism industry. She took private classes to become a tour guide, including Turkish language courses, friends said, hoping to some day lead groups of Iranians on trips abroad.
Travel was her passion, and with her friends she saved up enough money for package tours to Dubai, Turkey and Thailand. Two months ago, on a trip to Turkey, she relaxed along the beaches of Antalya, on the Mediterranean coast.
"She was a person full of joy," said her music teacher and close friend Hamid Panahi, who was among the mourners at her family home on Sunday, awaiting word of her burial. "She was a beam of light. I'm so sorry. I was so hopeful for this woman."
According to her friends, Neda was an accomplished singer who was taking piano lessons regularly. What she wasn't was a political activist, but she felt inspired by the injustice of the recent election to join friends in a demonstration taking place on Saturday, despite warnings from her friends and family that something bad might happen.
"Don't worry...It's just one bullet and its over" is what she supposedly told a friend who'd expressed concern for her safety.
Her friends say that Neda was stuck in traffic with three others on the way to a demonstration on Saturday. Frustrated, they got out of the car for air. Shortly thereafter, they heard a cracking noise in the distance and Neda collapsed to the ground with a bullet in her chest. "I'm burning" is what friends say her last words were.