Friday, October 10, 2003

BBC News | Iranian Activist Wins Nobel Peace Prize

(Spotted via The Head Heeb) An unexpected choice, I must say. Still, I think it's a good thing, and will no doubt irritate the Iranian authorities to no end.

The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian campaigner for human rights, noted for her work in promoting the rights of women and children.

Ole Danbolt Mjoes, chairman of the five-member selection committee, paid tribute to Ms Ebadi's work both at home and abroad saying that she understood that "No society can be seen as democratic without women being represented".

On hearing of her victory 56-year-old Ms Ebadi, who is in Paris at the moment, said: "I'm a Muslim, so you can be a Muslim and support democracy. It's very good for human rights in Iran, especially for children's rights in Iran. I hope I can be useful."

Ms Ebadi, a lawyer well known throughout Iran, was the country's first female judge, but was forced to resign following the Islamic Revolution in 1979.


The BBC's Tehran correspondent Jim Muir says that for the Iranian to win is an enormous boost for human rights campaign there and will be a source great delight for her supporters.

However, he also said that the award will be something of an embarrassment for Iran.

"Hardliners who run the judiciary will see it as outsiders now trying to intervene in Iranian politics. It is an embarrassment to them to see someone they have vilified held up as a shining example."


Even as news of the award was hitting front pages worldwide, Iranian state TV made no mention of it, our correspondent said. (emphasis added)

There will be widespread disappointment amongst many backers of Pope John Paul II as a recipient of the award, but I think the awards committee made the right decision. The reason behind the Pope's strong support from the most unusual sources, most of which oppose nearly everything he has to say on other issues, was his opposition to the war in Iraq, and it is a good thing that this year's prize was not hijacked for use as some sort of hammer with which to bash America over the head. There are far greater evils in the world than the war that occurred in Iraq (if one can even call that an "evil"), and the Islamic dictatorship in Iran is a much more deserving object of liberal outrage than anything George W. Bush has ever done. How strange it is then that groups like "International Answer" and would-be news organizations like "Indymedia" cannot find it within themselves to devote the most perfunctory attention to the plight of the Iranian population. Why, one might think that their rage was motivated not by humanitarian considerations, but by a hatred of capitalism, democracy, and everything else America stands for, if one were cynical - and this writer is so very far from being the cynical sort ...