Mission for Establishment of Human  Rights in Iran

(MEHR IRAN) 

Manipulation of Mrs Ebadi's Nobel peace prize

Mrs. Ebadi deserved the Nobel peace prize as much as the previous winners of the Nobel peace prize, if not more. However, in such a historic moment, when she was the focus of the attention of the whole world and was able to testify for the cruelty of the Islamic Regime and the grim situation of human rights in Iran, instead, what she said played well into the hands of all interest driven western governments, Islamic Regime lobby groups, and the supporters of the so called reformed Islamic government. She used this historic moment to defend her own ideology and left the door open for the acceptance of an Islamic Regime if her interpretation would be adopted.

Mrs. Ebadi still has a chance to use this excellent opportunity and let us hope that she does it right this time. While the whole world has its eyes on her and the reasons for which she won the Nobel Peace prize, she should, rather than promoting her ideology, endorse and champion a free secular society where everything, including her religion will be respected. She has written quite eloquently about this issue on her book and only needs to cry it out now.

An article in Persian tries to put this into perspective.

The following few excerpts are quite telling and show how this event is used to give new vitality and momentum to the deceptive idea of so-called “reform” in the Islamic Regime of Iran.

Los Angeles Time Editorial (10/11/03)

Ebadi's prize should encourage reformers and supporters of Iranian President Mohammad Khatami in their struggle to loosen the grip of fundamentalist clerics. Statements like the peace prize committee's bring cheer to the moderates without demonizing opponents. Lumping a government into an "axis of evil" forces reformers into the camp of their foes, lest they be considered traitors.

The Bush administration is right to campaign against possible Iranian nuclear weapons, but it also should engage Tehran and quietly support reformers' attempts to gain more power. Washington's request for Iranian help in rebuilding Iraq is a smart move in that direction. Iran has offered to provide water and electricity to Iraq and will take part in an international donors' conference this month in Madrid.

Nikki R. Keddie, UCLA professor emerita of history, writes in the newest edition of her book "Modern Iran" that since the 1980s Iran's foreign policy "has become increasingly pragmatic," but since 2001 Washington's foreign policy has become "increasingly ideological" and threatening toward Iranian leaders. That should change.

The United States should find many ways to salute Ebadi and colleagues who believe Islam is compatible with democracy, an especially important message after Sept. 11, 2001.

The motives of the Nobel Committee for selecting Mrs. Ebadi:

New York Times (10/11/03):

In awarding the prize to Ms. Ebadi, a "courageous person," the Nobel committee said it wished to prod the Muslim world into recognizing that Islam and human rights could go hand in hand. It also hoped to embolden the struggling reform movement in Iran at a time of widespread turbulence and upheaval in the Middle East.

The fact that she is a woman in an Islamic nation "carries special resonance," Mr. Mjoes, the committee chairman, said in an interview after the announcement. She represents "reformed Islam."

Nobel experts said the secretive committee had been closely watching events in Iran for some time. "If there is a message, it is that it expresses hope of internal reform so there will not be a need for confrontation," said Stein Tonnesson, the director of the International Peace Research Institute here. "And to the West, it's that Islam is not a monolithic religion."

Ms. Ebadi, who said she did not even know she had been nominated for the prize, also underscored the committee's central point in making her a Nobel laureate. "There is no contradiction between Islam and human rights," she said. "If a country abuses human rights in the name of Islam, then it is not the fault of Islam."

CNN (10/10/03):

Nobel experts said the five members of the Nobel committee, who include three women, probably chose Ebadi as a way of promoting change in Iran. The Middle Eastern nation was once branded part of an “axis of evil” by US president George W. Bush with pre-war Iraq and North Korea.

Quotes from Mrs. Ebadi using the Nobel occasion to promote her ideology:

CNN (10/10/03):

Asked at a news conference in the French capital how she thought the religious hardliners in Iran would react, Ebadi, 56, said: “ In my view there is no difference between Islam and human rights. The real Muslim should be very happy and should support the Nobel Peace Prize.”

Europe AP (10/14/03):

At her news conference in Paris, Ebadi said, "There is no difference between Islam and human rights. Therefore, the religious ones should also welcome this award," she added. "The prize means you can be a Muslim and at the same time have human rights."

NEWSWEEK (10/11/03):

·        Do you think that the regime can reform itself or is it stuck in a deadlock between the reformers and the old guard?

I believe that it still is possible to bring reform to the regime, but it is now high time for action as well as pragmatic thinking. Even in Iran where there hasn’t been any significant reform, the number of people who support reform has increased. It gives me hope that it will eventually happen.

·         Can human rights exist in an Islamic republic?

There is no contradiction between an Islamic republic, Islam, and human rights. If in many Islamic countries human rights are flouted, this is because of a wrong interpretation of Islam. All I have tried to do in the last 20 years was to prove that with another interpretation of Islam, it would be possible to introduce democracy to Muslim countries. We need an interpretation of Islam that leaves much more space for women to take action. We need an Islam that is compatible with democracy and one that’s respectful of individual rights.

·        You didn’t cover your head with the hijab, or veil, at the press conference. Did you want to make a statement?

Inside Iran, a woman is required by law to wear the hijab so I wear it. But as I mentioned, I believe that with a more progressive interpretation of Islam we can change this. I believe that it is up to individual women to decide whether they want to wear the hijab or not.
       
              

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