Reactions to Shirin Ebadi
have been many reactions to Shirin Ebadi winning the Nobel prize amongst
Iranians, both amongst the ex-pats and those inside Iran.
reactions can be summarised in the following categories:
reaction of the ruling hardliners (Iranian Talibans) :
course the reaction of the hardliners was no surprise. They are absolutely
livid about Shirin Ebadi winning the Nobel peace prize. Some like the
Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, can not even bring himself
to talk about it. Some like the conservative newspapers Kayhan and
Resalat have filled their pages with insults to Shirin Ebadi. Either
accusing the Nobel peace panel as agents of America and Zionists who had
previously awarded the prize to the likes of Israeli Prime Minister,
Yitzhak Rabin or directly accusing Shirin Ebadi herself as a non-believer
who had sexual relationship with the former Shah’s sister!
most comical award of this category however must go to the Jomhouri Eslami
(Islamic Republic) daily, which completely got it wrong. The daily wrote
Shirin Ebadi is a previously convicted activist who now lives in America
and her journalist husband Siamak Pourzand is currently serving an 11 year
sentence. In fact the paper got Shirin Ebadi mixed up with another Iranian
lioness Mehrangiz Kar. This just about sums up the level of intellect of
this category. So the less said the better.
reaction of the Khatami faction (2nd Khordad Front):
group known as “reformists” by some of their enthusiasts in the
Western press were also taken by surprise. The initial reaction of some
like the Entekhab Daily’s director, Tah Hashemi, after some delay was
that the prize should have instead been awarded
to president Khatami for his leadership in starting the “dialogue
amongst civilisations”, yuk!
am sorry I feel sick every time I am reminded of this statement. However
the very president who kids himself about being the pioneer and the
champion of dialogue amongst civilisations could not bring himself to a
dialogue with the first Iranian ever to win the Nobel prize.
several days of silence there was a luke warm congratulations from
president Khatami with lots of ifs and buts.
there is also a comedy award for this category which must go to president
Khatami himself when he so self-assuredly suggested that the Nobel peace
prize is not very important and it is the literature award that counts!
of us Iranians if not the Western press, remember how Khatami
unconditionally praised the butcher of Evin, the very much hated
Assadollah Lajevardi, who killed thousands of political prisoners
including pregnant women and children, yet this reformist champion of the
Western press couldn’t bring himself to praise Shirin Ebadi.
some of the more cunning figures in this camp quickly realised that they
could exploit this situation by feeding their crony journalists such as
Jim Muir, the BBC correspondent in Tehran, their usual misinformation.
They got their order taker journalists to misinform the world public that
Shirin Ebadi is in fact one of the major figures in this “reformist”
need to tell the world that Shirin Ebadi unlike the 2nd Khordad
figures, has never been part of this Islamic Republic establishment. She
has never held a government post within the Islamic Republic. As a lawyer
she has endeavoured to take forward her agenda of children and human
rights within the law of the Islamic Republic. No minor task at all.
reaction of the mainstream Iranians
is no doubt that the majority of Iranians are absolutely ecstatic about
Shirin Ebadi winning the Nobel peace prize. First of all she is our
compatriot and we all feel very proud. More importantly she is an activist
against this medieval regime who is active inside Iran. She was the first
woman judge under the Shah’s regime. The clerics decided that women are
not allowed to be judges according to Islamic teachings and so she
continued as a lawyer defending the poor, the oppressed, our political
prisoners and others. She was also instrumental in revealing the string
pullers of the vigilante thugs who attacked the political gatherings and
protests, by exposing the video confessions of a repented vigilante, Amir
Farshad Ebrahimi. For this she was banned from the bar and received a
short spell in prison as well as a suspended sentence.
the majority which fall within this category, Shirin Ebadi will now be
another one of those Iranians who are above the factional party politics
and will be crucial in keeping the order in the immediate post-Islamic
Republic era. We will need this period of calm and stability to rebuild
our national institutions and hold a referendum and elections. A
pluralistic secular Iran which is also stable and prosperous will lead the
way to peace and stability in the Middle East too. Such a future Iran will
contain the fundamentalist threat that currently threatens the civilised
are also some Iranians opposed to the Islamic Republic who also see Shirin
Ebadi’s Nobel prize as a conspiracy by those who want to prolong the
Islamic Republic. I could not find a suitable name for this section of
Iranians to categorise them. I have no doubt in their patriotism and on
most occasions I share their stance. So lets just refer to them as Ebadi
section of Iranians criticise Shirin Ebadi’s remarks about there being
no contradictions between Islam and human rights. They quite rightly point
out numerous contradictions between Islam and human rights and I share
their view. However we must remember none of us who share these views dare
to go back to Iran. The likes of us live outside Iran and enjoy the
security of the democracies we live in and so we can comfortably afford to
be so outspoken in our views.
have to remember the limitations that the people in Iran face. Yes of
course I would have preferred Shirin Ebadi to call herself an Iranian
woman first and foremost instead of a Muslim woman. Of course I would have
preferred Shirin Ebadi to come out and say Islam is not compatible with
human rights, but do I dare to go to Iran and say such things myself? Do I
know of any Iranians who publicly say these things inside Iran and are not
dead or in prison right now? We
are in fact a testimony to how our right to express our views is denied to
us in Islamic countries.
I revel in the joy of watching Shirin Ebadi appear before a press
conference without the Islamic head dress, and say all Iranian political
prisoners should be freed.
revel in the joy of her telling the world that the “reformists” in
Iran have reached a dead end and if the Guardian Council continues to veto
the candidates the people will just boycott the next parliamentary
revel in the joy of watching hundreds of thousands of Tehran’s citizens
rush towards the airport at short notice and greet Shirin Ebadi, who again
as soon as she arrives in Mehrabad airport demands the freedom of Iranian
revel in reading the news that the traffic towards the airport was bumper
to bumper and many abandoned their cars and walked to the airport. That
10,000 women alone wore white scarves symbolising peace, that people
outside the terminal sang Ey
Iran and other patriotic anthems.
revel in the fact that all the flower shops on the way to the airport had
sold out and people greeted their heroine with bouquets of flowers.
keep going on about civil disobedience and try to educate ourselves about
the ways in which to bring the masses into the streets and yet we ignore
such an opportunity because Shirin Ebadi was not as anti-Islamic as we
wanted her to be!
is precisely occasions such as this that we should exploit. For it is
within the capability of all citizens to go towards the airport. The
bigger the crowds the more confidence the people will have. The more
opportunity there will be for protest and more radical slogans.
more opportunity there will be to get the Law Enforcement personnel on our
have to win concessions step by step. Let’s be realistic.
also always complain about lack of news about the pro-democracy movement
in Iran and yet some choose to miss the promotion of such photo
opportunities and such news worthy items by their rigid anti-Islamic
I or the likes of me say something against the Islamic Republic it
does not make the headlines. If however Khoemini’s grandson says he
wants to see the overthrow of the Islamic Republic then that is news and
we should try to publicise it. Who cares if Hossein Khomeini is also a
cleric. He will appeal to sections of the population that the likes of us
will never be able to reach to.
am not in favour of making worshipped idols of any mortals and I don’t
like writing blank cheques to anyone. Those who want to criticise Shirin
for not being outspoken enough have the right to do so and it is a good
thing that we no longer let any individual take the mantle piece of being
above all criticism. I encourage them to criticise Shirin Ebadi as I
encourage people to keep a check on any public figure. But just let us
understand the opportunities that events like this present us.
four years ago an ill-informed, poorly educated generation of Iranians
went to welcome a medieval man who represented the dark ages and on his
flight back to Iran when he was asked what his feelings were before
returning to Iran after 15 years of exile, he replied “Nothing”.
Yesterday hundreds of thousands of Tehran citizens lined up the streets
and welcomed a woman who demanded the freedom of political prisoners and
after only a few days away from her motherland Iran, when asked about her
feelings, she replied “I feel like a child returning to her mother”.