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(photo credit: AP)
Reza Pahlavi, the son of the late Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, expressed his support for the post-election demonstrations in Teheran, calling for solidarity against the current Iranian regime and predicting its downfall.
"No one, no one will benefit from closing his or her eyes to knives and cables cutting into faces and mouths of our young and old...or from bullets piercing our beloved Nada," he said Monday at Washington's National Press Club.
Pahlavi was referring to the grisly murder of a 16-year-old protester named Neda at a demonstration in Teheran on Saturday that has become the symbol of the protests.
The murder was captured by at least two different cameras and posted on the popular video-sharing Web site, YouTube. The longer video, which is 40 seconds in length, has been seen by over 60,000 viewers since it was posted Saturday. The video clip shows Neda falling to the ground after being shot in the chest by a single bullet. As the girl lies on the pavement staring blankly up, blood starts to seep out of her nose, and mouth. Three men bend over Neda attempting to save her life while in the background, bystanders can be heard screaming out in anguish. The video ends with her face covered in blood.
A tearful Pahlavi said Neda's "only sin was to quest for freedom - no one but tyrants and their thugs. Do not let them define what is disrespect for sovereignty, what is interference in others' affairs."
Pahlavi said that the protests in Iran were for "the sanctity, even the sovereignty, of the ballot box." He blasted Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, saying that he "stood as a dam in front of this movement, sanctioning theft of the ballot box and flagrant fraud, all in the name of Islam."
"It was an ugly moment of disrespect for God and man. It will not stand," he said.
Speaking to reporters following his speech, Pahlavi described the current Iranian government as a "sinking Titanic" and urged supporters of the Iranian protesters to "not quiet down. Keep talking. Keep supporting us. Keep being there for us. We are dying here. We need to know we are not alone."
Pahlavi fled Iran with his family during the Islamic Revolution of 1979.