Iran's Bestial Behavior Knows No Limits

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Abbas Milani, in The New Republic:

(I)n the last two weeks, two heroes in the fight for dignity and democracy in Iran died at the hands of the regime. The first was Haleh Sahabi, a woman of vast erudition, who diligently explored the texts of the koran and its exegesis for arguments making Islam compatible with democracy and women's rights. She died, after being beaten up by regime thugs, for insisting on proper burial rights for her father--a heroic death in the manner of the Greeks' Antigone. Her father was one of the most esteemed members of Khomeini's first cabinet, put in place in 1979, when the wily ayatollah was still putting on the pretense of democracy.

The second casualty was an artist, democratic activist, and humanist by the name of Hoda Saber. Those who knew him describe him as a self-effacing but assertive, humble yet resolute, defender of human and artistic dignity. He was arrested a few months ago on no apparent charge. As he languished in jail, he heard of the brutal death of Haleh Sahabi two weeks before and went on a hunger strike. He had no demands for himself; he simply wanted to protest an injustice. After a few days, Saber's situation worsened, and his cellmates asked the authorities to take him to a doctor. When he returned from the hospital infirmary, Saber protested that, rather than attending to his heart condition, the regime's goons took the opportunity to assault him. This is attested to by the signed statement of sixty-four of his cellmates, each a member of Iran's democratic movement. Not long after the onset of his health problems, Saber died of heart complications.


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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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