The American novelist Ernest Hemingway famously defined courage as "grace under pressure." In Iran today, there are many examples of such grace.
Take human rights lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi. After her offices were raided and shuttered by government authorities and her home surrounded by paramilitary troops chanting death threats, Ms. Ebadi said, "Regardless of all pressures, I am not leaving Iran, and I am not ceasing my human rights activities. I will continue on the same path."
Or take the student demonstrators at Shiraz University, who gathered this month to protest the imprisonment of 4 of their fellow students for so-called "crimes against national security," when what they had done was peacefully protest regime policies. Despite the presence of security forces on the Shiraz campus on January 4th, students held up photographs of the imprisoned students and pledged to continue demonstrating until their colleagues are freed.
Or consider the case of Abolfazl Jahandar, a journalist for the news website Pouya, who was sentenced to 3 years in Evin for "insulting authorities." He wrote a letter from prison, translated and published on-line by the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation, outlining the flagrant violations of justice he experienced in custody.
"Law, civil rights, human rights and justice are strangers in our country," wrote Mr. Jahandar. "The political charge needs no proof and individuals are presumed guilty before trial. They punish us for what we did not commit." He wrote the letter, he said, because he refuses to keep silent: "Being silent sometimes means telling a lie, a cowardly and deceitful lie. I want to scream the pain that all detained human beings share."
President George Bush says, "The desire for freedom resides in every human heart. And that desire cannot be contained forever by prison walls, or martial laws, or secret police." The courage displayed by the many Iranians who insist on speaking truth to power is a testament to the accuracy of that assertion.