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Page last updated at 10:37 GMT, Thursday, 30 July 2009 11:37 UK

Profile: Neda Agha Soltan

Paris protesters carry pictures of Neda 25.7.09
Protests, like this one in Paris, use Neda as a symbol of Iranian opposition

Neda Agha Soltan's death during a Tehran street protest, graphically captured on a mobile phone, transformed her into a global symbol of Iranian opposition.

But those who knew her say that before Iran's disputed elections in June she had shown little interest in politics.

"She wasn't a political person. She didn't belong to any party or group. She didn't support any faction," her mother, Hajar Rostami Motlagh, told the BBC.

"Every other young Iranian was there [at the protest] - and she was one of them."

Mrs Motlagh said that Neda, 27, had married after leaving high school but she and her husband separated after three years and she had lived with her mother for the last two years of her life.

"Philosophy and theology were her favourite subjects," Mrs Motlagh said. "She was a spiritual person. She believed in God.

A photo showing Neda Agha-Soltan dying in Tehran on 20 June 2009

"She also loved travelling - she had been to Dubai and Turkey. And she loved Istanbul... she wanted to live there one day. "

Neda was also a gifted musician and singer, her mother said.

She had taken singing lessons for two years and it was with her music teacher that she went to the protest in Tehran on the day she died.

The car they were in became stuck in the crowds and they took to the streets because they were tired and hot, her fiance, Caspian Makan, said.

An Iranian doctor, Arash Hejazi, was standing close to Neda and her teacher when the shot rang out.

"I turned back and I saw blood gushing out of Neda's chest," he said.

"She was in a shocked situation, just looking at her chest. Then she lost her control."

Despite his attempts to save her, Neda died within seconds, her final moments filmed by a passer-by on a mobile phone.

In the background, the doctor can be heard pleading: "Stay with me, Neda."

Neda's music teacher is heard crying in the background as her life ebbs away.

Broadcast on internet

The shocking footage was posted on a video-sharing website and soon the images of Neda's death were being beamed around the world.

Days later, protesters supporting the Iranian opposition in cities around the world held aloft pictures of her and carried banners declaring: "I am Neda."

US-Iranian women protest in Los Angeles
Neda's name has become a rallying cry for protesters around the world

Her name has since become a rallying cry for Iranian pro-reformist campaigners.

Mrs Motlagh said that Neda had the same ambitions that many other young people have, but in particular she had wanted to become a mother.

"This for me is the most painful thing of all," she said.

She added: "I want... to thank everyone around the world, Iranians and non Iranians, people from every country and culture, people who in their own way, their own tradition, have mourned my child... everyone who lit a candle for her, every musician who wrote songs for her, who wrote poems about her... I want to thank all of them.

"Her death has been so painful - words can never describe my true feelings. But knowing that the world cried for her - that has comforted me.

"I am proud of her. The world sees her as a symbol, and that makes me happy."




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