It is June 2009. At the CNN’s Iran Desk in Atlanta, Georgia we are going through, trying to authenticate, countless pictures and video clips detailing the Iranian demonstrations against the rigged presidential election. Picture after picture soon reveals an unexpected pattern: Iranian women are everywhere, participating fully in these dangerous street protests. My heart is overcome with a strange mix of anxiety and immense pride. I am filled with worry about these women, young and old, being brutalized by the Islamic regime’s agents. At the same time, I am elated to witness Iranian women taking their rightful place as the heirs of courage, following a tradition of great Persian women fighting tyranny and asserting moral right through two millennia of history.
As I see the calm and fearless faces of these women standing against the chains, batons, knives and guns poured down on them by government cronies, I am reminded of a term that has been used in Iranian literature to describe extraordinarily courageous and brave women: ‘Sheerzan.’ Some might say that the word ‘lioness’ is not an appropriate equivalent for Sheerzan. But a lioness is both strong and gentle, as are these Iranian women: strong, brave, ferocious yet gentle. Other terms such as ‘lionheart’ or ‘braveheart’ could also be used to describe women heroes of Iran.
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