A revolutionary meme.

Curator's Note

Six years ago on June 12, 2009, Iranians went to the polls to elect a new president. Before the polls were even closed, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was announced as the sixth president of the Islamic Republic of Iran with 63% of the votes cast. Millions believe that their votes were never counted. Thus, on the days following the election, an all-embracing movement donning green armbands, finger-bands, and headbands took to the streets to call Ahmadinejad’s victory a fraud. Memed and repurposed from its original meaning as the effervescent green that signaled the wearer’s descent from the family of the prophet Muhammad, the color green became the symbol of the Iranian opposition. June 12, 2009 became the official genesis of Iran’s Green Movement.

On Monday, June 15, 2009, less than three days after the presidential election in Iran, thousands gathered to rally at Azadi Square (Freedom Square). The militia opened fire at the crowd, killing at least thirteen protestors and injuring many more. Spontaneously, the crowd raised the bodies of those murdered on Freedom Square and broke into a chant: “Mikosham, Mikosham anke baradaram kosht ” (I will kill, I will kill, he who killed my brother).

Three decades earlier, on September 8, 1978 (17 Shahrivar), also known as Black Friday, the Iranian Revolution witnessed the brutal death of many its protestors by the Shah’s army in Tehran, at Jaleh Square. Citizens were no longer willing to stand back as the resources of the nation were depleted by the ruling monarch, the Shah, and his Western allies. The violence on Black Friday marked the turning point of the Iranian Revolution. After that there was no turning back. The Shah left the country in January 1979 and the Islamic Republic of Iran was established in the name of the Iranian Revolution.

The slogan “I will kill, I will kill, he who killed my brother” has its source in the demonstration held on that Black Friday at Jaleh Square and Jaleh Square was renamed Square of the Martyrs (Maidan-e Shohada). The recollection of this chant in 2009 is a meme much like the one we see in the image. In the midst of the 2009 postelection crisis, its recollection brought home the profound betrayal of the state and its paramilitary of the Islamic Republic’s founding ethics of solidarity and radical kinship, its revolutionary cry, its resolute stance against injustice.

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