Prize for courage

While many articles will be written and many interviews will be conducted on the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, yet “peace” remains one of the scarcest commodities in our world. Perhaps the Nobel Prize for Humanity and Freedom would have been a better name for it, since peace is achievable even under oppression and is attributed mostly to a state of non-violence and absence of war.

Try to visualize how far would one have to go in order to achieve such a great accomplishment and win a Nobel Prize in Peace representing a nation and a country that is lacking peace in terms of tranquility of life, freedom and human values. Only when we compare the peace prize with other prizes such as in medicine or chemistry, can we better appreciate the risks that Ebadi had to take and the very narrow line she had to walk for the sole purpose of reinstating full humanitarian standards and dignity for Iranian women and children.

As Iranians in the US, when we decide to go in front of any Federal building such as the one in Los Angeles to make a defiant statement against the regime in Iran or any adverse US policies against Iranians, many of us wear dark sunglasses and some wear scarves so that we won't be recognized by secret agents of either governments!

Here in the United States, the freest country in the world, many of us are still dubious about our level of freedom and liberty. We are somewhat paranoid that our phone lines may be tapped and trashcans searched and bank accounts audited. But step back for a few minutes to better appreciate of how much courage and valor it takes for someone like Ebadi to be who she is in today's Iran.

There are those among us that remain defiant towards the regime in Iran, yet there are also those who make sure that there is a picture of Khomeini in their purse or in wallet when they go for a visit to Iran and when arriving at Tehran airport to show their allegiance to the regime in order to protect themselves in case something goes wrong. And then there is Ebadi who has continuously questioned the authority of the despotic regime and risked her life many times.

Her Nobel prize is an honor for every Iranian, every Muslim and every man and woman in the Third World. It is an honor to learn how someone inside the den of this savage regime dares so courageously and risks everything in the name of freedom and basic human rights and comes out successful. Then she graciously shares the prize with all of the other heroes who are fallen.

Ebadi's Nobel prize is the revival of the spirits of those innocent men and women who perished under the bloody claws of the satanic and corrupt system in Iran. It is a recognition of the brave souls who perished while fighting this foreign installed cluster of backward, anti-Iranian deceivers for the past 24 years.

She is a lesson for all of us, to take advantage of the freedoms we enjoy in the US and not waste it by remaining silent and paranoid. We also paid our dues in this country like any other good citizen and our silence is an insult to the rare flower of freedom that blooms in the arid land of oppression and theocracy.

Ebadi's accomplishment is also a slap in the face of those brainwashed men who consider women inferior to men and chastise women for their emotions and other stigma. Yet, Iran remains the only nation in the Middle East with the highest potential to become a model among Muslim nations — the first nation to expel the monotheistic approach to government and allow all religions live alongside each other in peace and discourage social standards based on religious texts that written centuries ago.

This is not intended to mean that religious texts are wrong, but social interactions have changed so much that today none of the holy books can govern the entire affairs of human beings without inhibiting some aspect of freedom for some other groups who hold different opinions and beliefs. Besides, of the 65 million who live in the Islamic Republic, the governing thugs seem to be the ones who do not believe in God or their holy scriptures. Thus the nation's struggle is against both theocracy and the evil of corruption and treason.

Together Iranians can cultivate the garden of peace, liberty and freedom for all women, men and children. Speak up for your country and propagate the seeds of freedom for Iran to clean itself from drug abuse, prostitution, foreign intervention and domestic idiosyncrasy. Don't let this flower die; keep that flame burning.

Offering the Nobel Peace prize to an Iranian is not a complimentary gesture to us as a nation. It's a reminder that liberty is a rare commodity that has to be earned; no one will offer it to us in a silver platter.


Farrokh A. Ashtiani is the founder of

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