Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Shirin Ebadi

Shirin Ebadi (شیرین عبادی in Persian) (born 1947 in Hamadan, Iran) is a human rights and democracy activist. On October 10, 2003, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. She is the first Iranian and the first Muslim woman to receive the prize.

The selection of Ebadi by the Norwegian Nobel committee is thought by some observers to represent an implicit criticism of American policy in the Middle East, in particular the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. George W. Bush has referred to Iran as a member of the axis of evil, and Iran has also been suggested as a possible target for regime change. At a press conference shortly after the Peace Prize announcement, Ebadi herself explicitly rejected foreign interference in the country's affairs: "The fight for human rights is conducted in Iran by the Iranian people, and we are against any foreign intervention in Iran." [1] [1]

Ebadi received a law degree from the University of Tehran and is famous for becoming the first female judge in Iran. She had to resign her position following the revolution in 1979, when conservative Islamic clerics took control of the country and introduced severe restrictions on the role of women.

Ebadi now lectures law at the University of Tehran, and is a campaigner for strengthening the legal status of children and women, the latter of which played a key role in the May 1997 landslide presidential election of the reformist Mohammad Khatami and have since been striving for a more active role in public life.

As a lawyer, Ebadi is known for taking up cases of liberal and dissident figures who have fallen foul of the judiciary, one of the bastions of hardline power in Iran. She has represented the family of Dariush Farouhar, a dissident intellectual who was found stabbed to death at his home. His wife, Parveneh, was also killed at the same time. The couple was among several dissidents who died in a spate of grisly murders that terrorized Iran's intellectual community. Suspicion fell on extremist hard-liners determined to put a stop to the more liberal climate fostered by President Khatami, who has championed freedom of speech.

In 2000, Ebadi was accused of distributing the video-taped confession of a hardline hooligan who claimed that prominent conservative leaders were instigating physical attacks on pro-reform gatherings and figures. She received a suspended jail sentence and a professional ban. The case brought increased focus on Iran from human rights groups abroad.

Ebadi recently established a non-governmental organization in Iran, the Centre for the Defence of Human Rights.

In November 2003 she said that she would provide legal representation for the family of the murdered journalist Zahra Kazemi.

Books written by Shirin Ebadi (translated into English):

See also: History of Iran, Politics of Iran

External links