Thursday, January 8, 2009

Opinion: Shirin Ebadi

The following are excepts from Azadeh Moaveni's opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal:

"The last time I saw Shirin Ebadi in Tehran, the government devoted at least perfunctory attention to her safety. Two state-appointed bodyguards stood watch outside her house, and even accompanied us to dinner. They carefully looked on as we ate under the stars, interrupted every few moments by effusive Iranians who recognized their country's 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner and paused to press her hands in thanks.

As one of the few legitimate moral voices that command attention among Iran's disenchanted but sizable middle-class, she represents the country's silent majority. In 2005, she chose to boycott the presidential election on grounds that the regime's disqualification of candidates it disfavored denied Iranians true freedom of choice. Her stance helped convince many liberal Iranians to stay at home.

Hard-liners want to antagonize both her and the moderate Iranians she represents. In the face of such lawless and government-sanctioned attacks on her home and office, Ms. Ebadi will have little choice but to urge another boycott of the vote. The authorities know her inflexible ethics well, and know what response their mistreatment will prompt. The campaign against her also signals to moderate Iranians that their government is just as untrustworthy as they feared. A government that stands aside while the home of a Nobel Peace laureate is attacked by a mob can hardly be trusted to run a clean vote."

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