Iranian jurist and attorney Ebadi, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003, recounts a life of commitment to human rights in the face of tyranny.
Ebadi (with Time Islamic affairs correspondent Moaveni) wasn’t well known outside Iran when she won the Nobel, but she was renowned within the country for fighting for women’s rights. Too, she had recently turned up evidence that the Islamic Republic had been murdering intellectual critics of the regime “in the name of God.” The roving hit squads, most of whose members “were low-ranking functionaries of the Ministry of Intelligence,” had knifed or strangled dozens of victims by 2000, when Ebadi discovered her name on the list, about the time she was briefly imprisoned as an object lesson in what happens to those who question the regime. It was not the first time Ebadi, born into an influential family that fell on hard times under the Shah’s rule, had been in trouble with the law. Appointed a judge at 23, she was removed from office when the mullahs came to power; she recounts a meeting with Fathollah Bani-Sadr, who would rise to prominence in the Islamist regime, and who “suggested” that she veil herself in deference to “our beloved Imam Khomeini, who has graced Iran with his return.” The suggestion did not take, though many of her colleagues adapted quickly to the new government, just as, she observes, they did when Mossadegh was assassinated and the Shah took control. Steadfast in her commitment to democratic reform, Ebadi closes by praising her daughter’s generation for defying the “morals police” and pressing for civil rights, and she declares that “the [Bush administration’s] threat of regime change by military force . . . endangers nearly all of the efforts democracy-minded Iranians have made in these recent years.”
An admirable account that will be of special interest to those keeping their eyes on the Middle East.