Saturday, April 14, 2007

Perspective: How Iran's true believers pass the torch

AHVAZ AND DEZFUL, IRAN - Mohamad Reza Rashidi's devotion is measured by the plastic water bottle he brings to the cemetery every few days to wash the dusty gravestone of his favorite martyr.

The young student was not even born when Iran's devastating 1980-88 war with Iraq ended, leaving 1 million dead and wounded. But the core values of its 1979 Islamic revolution, such as sacrifice and martyrdom, burn inside him as they do in so many of his peers.

"[Veterans] didn't go to war with arms ... they defeated the enemy with their beliefs," says Rashidi, who aims to become a "soldier of Imam Mahdi" – the hidden imam whom Shiites expect to return someday to bring justice.

"It could be a message to tell the US that we are not afraid of them," he adds, standing in the expansive Ahvaz war cemetery amid a sea of flapping Iranian flags. "If we were scared, there would not be so many martyrs."

Read the rest at the Christian Science Monitor