Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Blessed are the truthseekers and truth tellers, especially those who risk not only their own lives and voices, but those of family and friends, in the pursuit of the real story, particularly in the face of vicious, oppressive tyrannies, whether religiously fanatical or simply power hungry. The people of the great country of Iran have suffered enormously under the rule of the mullahs and their basij stormtroopers, and the world was stunned by the execution of Neda on a Tehran street on 20 June 2009. But many more were disappeared that day, both before and after in fact, hidden away in torture chambers of Evin and other terrible dungeons (where assaults included rape and murder), many never to return. In Zahra's Paradise, a graphic novel of power and emotion, the artists expose the ruthless attack against democratic sentiments, as thousands of citizens (many students) have been killed or locked away, and any hints of free thinking squashed. Although the main character, Mehdi, is most likely a composite figure, he stands for all who suffered, and the story of intrepid journalists, citizens, and family members in uncovering the truth and fighting for justice, at great cost to themselves, is a powerful statement. Along with the powerful and better-known graphic work of Marjan Satrapi, two anonymous men have produced a biting, sarcastic, and straightforward critique of the current regime in Iran. No dought a fatwa for their heads would be issued should the Iranian authorities discover their true identities. I wonder if any copies will make it into Iran, but it is a story citizens there are all to aware of any way. No, this is for the rest of the world, so ignorant is it of the true life of average Iranians. The sentiment in the United States is often to demonize Iranians, but I know that in truth a huge segment of the population hates what the mullahs have done. While many ignorantly follow the mullahs's lead, thousand push back against oppression in a myriad of ways, from small gestures to life-risking protest. There will always be brave protestors, who continue to fight for freedom. Allah bless them in their struggle. May freedom one day shine on all Iranians. I strongly recommend the novel to readers everywhere.