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Iranian Who Burned Himself in Protest Dies

October 03, 1987

Neusha Farrahi, the Iranian demonstrator who had set himself afire Sept. 20 to protest the executions and political repression under the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's regime, died Friday. He was 31.

Farrahi was deemed a martyr by many of the estimated 200,000 to 400,000 Iranian immigrants in the Los Angeles area. A leftist, he was also criticized as a "showoff" by some rightists who had supported the Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi.

Farrahi set himself on fire at a demonstration at the Federal Building in Westwood. Farrahi stood up, shouted brief slogans in English against the Shah and Khomeini's Islamic Republic, and then lit the fire.

Within about a minute, his younger brother, Payam, found a fire extinguisher wrapped in a blanket nearby and put the fire out. "If he had only told me about the fire extinguisher," Payam said shortly after the demonstration, "I could have stopped him from being so badly burned. But if he had told me, then I never would have let him do it."

Farrahi was hospitalized with burns over 70% of his body.

He was an art and film critic in the Farsi-language media. He ran a bookstore in Westwood that has been a gathering place for anti-Khomeini Iranians.

Surviving are his father, Farhang, a prominent Iranian journalist who edits a weekly newspaper here, his mother, Galoria, and two brothers, Nima and Payam.

The family said funeral arrangements have yet to be decided.

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