First Published: 2003-10-10

Nobel Peace Prize goes to Iranian rights activist

Shirin Ebadi becomes the first Muslim woman to win Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts for democracy, human rights.


Middle East Online

Ebadi hopes the fame the prize brought will help her work in Iran

OSLO - Iranian human rights activist and feminist lawyer, Shirin Ebadi, was awarded the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo Friday, becoming the first Muslim woman to win the honour in the prize's 102-year history.

Ebadi, 56, was given the prize "for her efforts for democracy and human rights," particularly for women and children in her country, which has been under Islamic rule since its 1979 revolution, the Nobel Committee said.

In 1974 she became Iran's first woman judge, but lost that post in the revolution five years later when Islamic clerics took over and decreed that women could not preside over courts.

In a reaction broadcast on Norwegian radio, Ebadi said her win was "very good for me, very good for human rights and very good for democracy in Iran."

She added that she was "very glad and proud" and hoped the fame the prize brought would help her work in her country.

In 1974 Ebadi became Iran's first woman judge, but lost that post in the revolution when Islamic clerics took over and decreed that women were too emotional to preside over courts.

"My problem is not with Islam, it's with the culture of patriarchy," Ebadi told Britain's Guardian newspaper in June. "Practices such as stoning have no foundation in the Koran."

Ebadi spent time in jail for attending a 2001 conference on Iranian form in Berlin. She has maintained a high profile in her feminist struggle, also by writing many books and articles.

"Any person who pursues human rights in Iran must live with fear from birth to death, but I have learned to overcome my fear," she told the Christian Science Monitor newspaper in 1999.

The Nobel Peace Prize, which carries a purse of 10 million Swedish kroner (1.1 million euros, 1.3 million dollars), is decided by an Oslo-based Nobel Committee which counts two men and three women.

Ebadi was selected from a field of 165 candidates for the prize, among them Pope John Paul II and former Czech president Vaclav Havel.


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