- Posted by Maryam Namazie
- On May 25, 2004
- 0 Comments
So what if Shirin Ebadi is from ‘our country’?
Published in WPI Briefing
May 25, 2004
A viewer who watched TV International English called to criticise my statements against Shirin Ebadi’s justification of Islam and the Islamic regime of Iran. In my statement I had said: ‘For a woman – let alone a ‘human rights activist’ – to say that there is no contradiction between Islam and human rights is like a black South African saying there is no contradiction between Apartheid and human rights. Islam is synonymous with sexual apartheid and its first victims are women and girls. This is not just insider knowledge for those of us who have lived under Islamic rule but general knowledge. Islam and human rights are a contradiction in terms.’ The incensed viewer stated: ‘How come you didn’t get the Nobel Peace Prize if you know better than Shirin Ebadi, and why can’t you just be glad someone from our country has received the Nobel Peace Prize rather than criticising her?’
Firstly, in my opinion, the Nobel Peace Prize is not any ordinary prize; it has political meaning and there is a reason why Ebadi has received this prize when she did. Her receiving the prize largely reveals western government intervention in opposition to the ever-growing revolutionary and progressive movement in Iran.
Secondly, I don’t think the prize is the issue at all. Before her receipt of the prize, we criticised Ebadi and others who excuse and justify Islam and the Islamic regime of Iran. Getting a Nobel Peace Prize doesn’t exclude one from being criticised but in fact makes criticism all the more crucial given Ebadi’s increased visibility across the world. In all she says and does, she is pushing forth a political agenda that is contrary to people’s rights and universal norms and standards. In particular, she is pushing forward a political agenda for the prolongation of the Islamic regime that has been defeated by the people of Iran and that has been deemed bankrupt. So I will stand up to her and criticise her whether she has won a prize or not.
Finally, the fact that she is from ‘our country’ doesn’t mean a whit to me. Khatami, Khamenei, Rafsanjani are from ‘our country’. And Marx and Rosa Luxembourg are not. Unlike our incensed viewer, my starting point is not that Ebadi is a woman, not that she has won a prize, and not that she is from ‘our country.’ My starting point is the human being and humanity and where she stands vis-à-vis people’s rights and dignity.