TEHRAN - A group of clerics and theology students from Iran's clerical centre of Qom have hit out at the Nobel Peace Prize win of women's rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi saying it was part of a Western conspiracy against Islam.
In a statement carried by the hardline Jomhuri Eslami newspaper, the group from Qom's main seminary said: "The decision by the Western oppressive societies to award the prize to Ebadi was done in order to ridicule Islam."
The paper did not say how many people signed the statement, which also lamented that a "serious revolutionary confrontation with the tribe of infidels" had not yet taken place.
As for the "infidels", it voiced hope for their "tongues to be cut from their mouths and the poisonous pens broken in their hearts".
Keeping up its stiff criticism of Ebadi, the paper also quoted Mousa Qorbani - a prominent conservative MP - as comparing the Nobel laureate to British author Salman Rushdie, who was sentenced to death by Iran's revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini for writing "The Satanic Verses".
"Awarding the Nobel Prize to Ebadi is like rewarding Salmam Rushdie, the Zionist regime and US leaders," he was quoted as saying.
Ebadi was given the prize on October 10 for her efforts to promote democracy and human rights, especially in her campaign to change Iran's laws governing women and children.
Her reform efforts and her defence of political dissidents have earned her the loathing of powerful hardliners here.