ندا آقا سلطان - تنديس - سانفرانسيسكو
You too can help. Please read the following letter, and if you agree with our position regarding the matter, copy and paste it into your e-mail client, sign and send it to the recipients we have listed. It should not take more than a few minutes of your time.
The Honorable Gavin Newsom, Mayor of San Francisco (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The City and County of San Francisco Board of Supervisors (Board.of.Supervisors@sfgov.org)
The San Francisco Human Rights Commission (email@example.com)
Secretary of The San Francisco Arts Commission (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Regarding: Statue of Neda Agha-Soltan at San Francisco’s City Hall
On July 25 2009, a plaster casting of Neda Agha-Soltan, the young Iranian woman killed in the recent events in the Islamic Republic, was presented at a rally, organized by an entity calling itself “United 4 Iran”, on the steps of San Francisco City Hall. The portrait bust, which is presently being cast in bronze, shows Neda, a victim of the Islamic Republic, wearing the Hejab.
We, the senders of this letter, Iranians, Americans and concerned individuals from around the world, while fully recognizing artistic freedoms and bearing no ill feelings towards the sculptor*, view the display of such a statue at a public space, namely San Francisco’s City Hall, not as a celebration of what Neda represents and is a symbol of, but a mockery and a caricature of her and countless other victims of Islamism in Iran and around the world. From our point of view, the installation of such a statue, though pleasing the supporters of theocracy in Iran, is an unequivocal, direct insult to the freedom loving women of Iran and other victims of militant Islam.
Like millions of her compatriots, Neda was a freedom loving Iranian woman who had no choice but to obey the Islamic laws imposed on Iranian society. If she is shown in a picture wearing the Hejab, it is because under the Islamic Republic the wearing of the Hejab is mandatory. There exist other pictures of Neda which attest to her rejection of the Hejab.** In our view, by installing such a statue, the municipality of San Francisco has is in effect condemned Neda to obey the laws of the Islamic Regime even in death.
We ask, would Neda herself be happy with such a caricature?
Her life having come to a tragic end, Neda, of course, can no longer speak, to personally let the City Hall know her opinion of the matter. But we can and do ask the municipality of San Francisco why it would want to condemn Neda to be identified with that symbol of subjection and servitude called the Hejab, even after her death.
We wonder how the two governing bodies could be differentiated on the basis of their actions, when the Islamic regime forces Iranian women to wear the Hejab, while the municipality of San Francisco consents to the imposition of that very Hejab on a victim of the Islamic regime right by its doorsteps.
We ask The Honorable Gavin Newsom, Mayor of San Francisco, The City and County of San Francisco Board of Supervisors, The San Francisco Human Rights Commission and The San Francisco Arts Commission, to either remove the statue from the premises of the San Francisco City Hall, or replace it with another, showing a Neda finally freed from the Hejab and the servitude symbolized by the Hejab. We, especially the Americans among us, see no reason why a young woman opposed to the Hejab, and internationally recognized as the symbol of freedom for Iranian women, should remain under the servitude of the Hejab in a country we recognize as the Land of the Free.
We ask, most respectfully, that you set Neda free.
We shall wait eagerly for a response to this letter, a statement announcing the decision you have made in this respect.
*This letter in no shape or form is meant to belittle the works of the American artist Paula Slater, who has been most kind in responding to each and every one of our enquiries. We thank her for her generosity, her kindness and her sympathy, and would be very pleased to see her commissioned to create a new bust that we have suggested.
** Some pictures of Neda:
از ناهيد ركسان كه در راهنمائی من و ياری هايشان در پيوند با اين نامه لحظه ای درنگ نكردند بينهايت سپاسگزارم. از هم ميهنان خواهش ميكنم كه در ارسال آن به شهردار و شهرداری سانفرانسيسكو، "کميسيون حقوق بشر سانفرانسيسكو" و کميسيون هنرها ی شهر سانفرانسيسكو همراهی كنند.
UPDATE: To give an update to the non-Iranian readers who helped us deliver this message to the city of San Francisco, I was informed by my friend Paula Slater, of whose kindness and understanding I cannot say enough, that the San Francisco City Hall will NOT install the statue of Neda wearing the Hejab. I like to thank Paula herself for listening to us, and for her understanding, and all of you good people who helped us in this cause. A small battle (though of great consequence) has been won; the war to free Iranian Civilization from the yoke of the Islamic Republic will continue.