Friday, October 10, 2003

Shirin Ebadi

Iranian human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi has won the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize. While not my top pick, she certainly seems a worthy choice. Word is the Nobel committee hopes to promote change in Iran by highlighting the reformist movement. There might be hope of that: While the prize for Aung San Suu Kyi, the closest parallel I can think of, did not lead to a turnaround in Myanmar, Iran's system is significantly more open at the Myanmarese military junta, and more susceptible to different forms of pressure. The reaction from elsewhere in the Islamic world will also bear watching, and in that vein I find it interesting that al-Jazeera seems to play up her gender more than her religion, probably because as Muslims themselves they take it for granted that Islam is compatible with human rights and democracy and the pressure to highlight that is thus less than in the West.


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