Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Interview: Laureate in Exile

Ebadi was born in 1947, the daughter of an expert on commercial law (Mohammad Ali Ebadi). According to most accounts, she became the first female judge in the entire history of Iran. An amazing distinction, given the age of the country. But when the Khomeinists seized power, she had to quit being a judge. They said that Islam forbade women to serve as judges — for one thing, they were too emotional. So, Ebadi devoted herself to work as a human-rights lawyer.

She has been living in exile since 2009, when Iran experienced a great amount of turmoil. It is my understanding that she still has family in Iran. (I did not ask this in my time with her, which was a generous amount of time, but not unlimited.) One question has been, How free is Shirin Ebadi to speak her mind, given what the regime can do to her loved ones?

Over the years, she has spouted her fair share of anti-American and anti-Israeli rhetoric (or rhetoric that can be interpreted that way). Some Iranians have suspected that she does this in order to buy a little protection from the regime — to keep it from her own and others’ throats.

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