Thursday, October 28, 2021
Arezou Saaberi
There comes a time in life when you have to choose whether to turn the page or to close the book!

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“The hero and the coward both feel the same thing, but the hero uses his fear, projects it onto his opponent, while the coward runs. It’s the same thing, fear, but it’s what you do with it that matters.”

Cus D’Amato, American boxing coach

Toomaj Salehi, according to his uncle, Mr. Eghbali, was arrested at his home on Monday, September 13, 2021 after 12 assailants in four cars raided his house. Toomaj Salehi, boxer, rapper, protesting citizen, active user on social media… Whatever he had, he did not have fear. He did not disguise himself. He was not silent.

“I invite you to (having) courage and promise to be first in line to face death. Being alive in this indignity is not worth it. This is not humanity. One day courageous living is worth more than 100 years of living in indignity.” July 30, 2021

It’s not Toomaj’s first time to be arrested. He has tasted arrest and imprisonment:

“14 years ago, I joined a rap band. I was the only one who wrote political (songs), when I was 16. The only one who everybody ran away from so not become a trouble for them. 1 year later, I was arrested, I was away from the atmosphere, but I was writing every day, I was singing and practicing, I was ready for today. 14 years studying and practicing… It only makes sense to be strong.” June 25, 2021

We now know Toomaj is thirty years old:

In response to a tweet about “becoming 30,” Toomaj tweeted: “You speak of it in a way that I’m ashamed of being 30!” June 8, 2021

Or maybe more:

“Or 31, 32 or 39!” June 8, 2021

Salehi tells us what the Islamic Republic has done to his uncles, to his father:

“I don’t get upset by regime’s goons cursing and threatening me, but I’m heart broken by my people labeling me. I don’t need rap to get asylum anywhere, my father was a political prisoner for 8yrs, my uncles (mom’s brothers) were assassinated by the Islamic Republic. I could get work visa with my degree and technical school certificates… But it’s OK!” August 2, 2021

Eight years in prison. His father could be Mokhtar Salehi, who was released on parole last year, May 16, 2020, after serving eight years in prison at Ward 4, Hall 1, at Evin prison. Toomaj can be any of us. He is one of us. He is our voice and now in prison. But he is a boxer, a fighter, who knows his opponent very well. He knows that this opponent “does not arrest anyone, it kidnaps”:

“On Saeed’s wedding night, (referring to Saeed Soltanpour), at the end of the wedding, they fire bullets in the air, crash the wedding and kidnap Saeed, yes, Islamic Republic agents do not arrest someone, they kidnap, they do not execute, they murder, they do not interrogate, they torture!”

Toomaj is also not so many things; For example, playing in the middle, or a “reformer”:

Toomaj Salehi captioned a photo of Mohammad Khatami (well-known leader of “reformists” in Iran): “We don’t need you in our team, sycophant!”

Or patriarchal and misogynistic:

Quoting a tweet which discusses the much needed masculinity to fight the brutal regime, Toomaj tweeted: “In all protests that I’ve been to, always women began to chant first!” Jul 22, 2021

Or separatist and ethnocentric:

“Nobody and no group, from inside or outside the country, can divide people. Don’t waste your breath. #Khuzestan_IsNot_Alone” July 21, 2021

Toomaj is of all ethnicities, all languages; He is an Iranian:

“I am from Baluch’s poverty, Kurd’s Kolbar, native language, Arab & Turk.” July 4, 2021

He does not seek fame, name or recognition. He doesn’t have so happy memories about becoming famous, either:

“Before I become famous, I should tell you this, I hate fame. 7-8yrs ago, most of people in the city knew me from boxing. It is a good feeling to be respected but you are always followed, you are never alone and that bothers you. You have to talk to total strangers gives you a sense of insecurity!” June 16, 2021

Toomaj, like all of us, is not just a protesting human being, he has another life, if the Islamic Republic allows one to have another life:

“Follow light in me, after so much darkness, there is a town in tranquility. I won’t be fighting there, I am sitting and watching you. I am just a lover there.” June 8, 2021

Toomaj talks about a clear line between us and the regime:

“I & I, you & you, let’s put our teams together. Create a line between the people and the regime…” August 28, 2021

He emphasizes on one thing above all: unity. Creating solidarity, learning how to compromise and respect different thoughts and tendencies:

“One of my goals is unity, solidarity. We must learn to compromise. We must be able to stay together despite our differences, republican, monarchists,….(not that I will do it, everybody in their own capacity, I will do it as Toomaj).” June 19, 2021

Today, when Toomaj is “kidnapped”, we must pay attention to his message and mannerism more than just media coverage of him – most of them are copying and pasting; one of the things that Toomaj strongly criticized:

“My friends, if I’m arrested, don’t feel like you lost. I did my duty, I sang on the streets. They can’t arrest my voice. If they arrest me, they are losers. We had a bigger win. I don’t wanna see you upset. Hold your head up and fearless, smile as a sign of knowing our victory.” August 13, 2021

Translation of this post by Sahar.

“We’ll See Each Other On the Other Side of the Wall” – Toomaj Salehi