Paulo Coelho: [The Gaze of the Gazelle] an Important and Life-Affirming Memoir

On 20 June 2009, a brief video clip was circulated all over the world. It showed the death of a young, unarmed woman called Neda, who had been shot in the chest while taking part in a protest in Tehran and was bleeding to death on the street. Few images in the contemporary world have had such an instant and powerful impact. This footage was so intense it raised the awareness of the world on what was happening in Iran and forced world leaders to condemn the way the Iranian government was treating its citizens.

For me, however, it was more personal. There was a young man in the video trying to save Neda. He was my friend, Arash.

When I met him for the very first time, I could never have imagined that this slim young man would get caught in the crossroad of history ten years later. Even if I had the power to look into the future and see that this passionate doctor-publisher-author was destined to be present in one of the most important documents of contemporary history, I couldn’t have imagined the way he would react to it. I couldn’t have imagined that he would have the courage to testify against an unspeakable crime, and be prepared to forsake everything to expose the truth.

I met Arash in Tehran in 2000 when I visited Iran. Arash was the Iranian publisher who, despite the fact that Iran has not signed up to any of the international copyright agreements, had made the decision to publish my work with my authorisation.

I was in a state of confusion when I met him. Finally I was in Iran, and while I had been looking forward to visiting Iran for some time, I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t know what the implications of my visit were going to be, or if Christina and I were in any kind of danger. However, I had made the decision to venture this visit; I already knew that I had thousands of readers there waiting for me and I was ecstatic at the thought of seeing the land of Rumi, Saadi, Hafiz and Omar Khayyam.

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