I really hope you publish this piece, b/c I think another take on this women is really needed, and albeit this is short and to the point, we Iranians need to have the other side of every issue put forth — as iranian.com has done, and I hope continues to do so.
Ali Ardeshir Jowza
Democracy takes time, as peoples, especially in the Middle East have to go through trials and tribulations to reach that goal. One must not expect democracy to come from abroad. These were words of Shirin Ebadi echoed in her speech at the Comcast Center at the University of Maryland on the twelfth of May (2004). Strangely enough, the last Pahlavi Shah always told the world that Iran was not yet ready for democracy and that it would take time to reach that goal, he always pointed out that one must not expect it to happen overnight. For this, he was overthrown and called a tyrant, for Ebadi, applauses and standing ovations all around.
Having analyzed Shirin's words/speeches/interviews (after she won the Nobel), and heard various viewpoints of who this woman is and what her objective and goals actually were, I had to go for myself and listen to her words live. I had my pre-conceptions, based on my own findings before, and I can say, at least based on this speech; the Islamic Republic has found their new voice piece and fact to spew their rhetoric. Like Khatami, she eloquently and poetically has mastered the ancient Iranian art of fooling the masses.
In this speech at Maryland University, she like a good diplomat put forth the IRI's objectives, and goals. She outlined, and put as the IRI loves to do, Islam on a pedestal, she blasted the United States (and Israel) on its human rights towards Iraqi's, Afghanistan, and Palestinians-while forgetting to mention that her own IRI puts all these countries to shame. She placed the United Nations on a moral high ground, arguing that this body needs more power on issues such as human rights. Finally, she tried to say that Iran is not a separate identity, but rather belongs to a greater Islamic world and culture (Cyrus the Great must be turning over on his grave as I speak).
The first section of her speech, an Iranian friend and I joked sounded like sermons given by Iran's mullahs during Friday Prayers (namaz-e Jomheh). Islam, its prophet, all could do no wrong. A one sided history of Islam was beautifully put forth, while no wrongs were pointed out. For example, she mentioned how Muhammad cared highly for women and children, forgetting to mention what the Quran says about women, or how this prophet of God and representative of that great entity on earth married and copulated with a nine-year-old girl.
If God is timeless, his prophet, no matter the time period in history, should not act and live like a normal Bedouin in Arabia would at that time-this of course is my opinion, take it as you will. In another example, she talked about how the first muezzin caller was black, and how the prophet talked about equality of all; then what about Islam and slavery? Hence, her first part was merely to the trained ear, a Friday Islamic sermon at its best. The people in the audience took to her words, because they were lost in its poetry and eloquence. If they sat back and thought for a moment to what she was saying, they might not have clapped and stood up in admiration as much as they did.
The second section of her speech was IRI foreign policy at its best. That is, to blast the United States(and Israel) on what has happened to the Iraqi's, Afghanis, and the Palestinians, yet fail to mention the IRI's human rights record. Aren't the Iranian masses just as, if not more oppressed as the Palestinians are? One moment, I will not forget, is how Ebadi blasted the United States and its treatment of Palestinians, Afghanis and Iraqis, and how the people of America must recognize and not allow their government to violate the human rights of these peoples. However, doing a great disservice to her fellow Iranians, she forgot to mention Iranians, who suffer the most human rights abuses, and who need American support the most to help them topple the IRI.
Giving the United Nations more power over human rights , was another part of Ebadi's speech. This thought is exactly what the IRI and European Union argue. Again, she failed to mention that the United Nations is all about politics; they blast Israel for human rights abuses, but Kofi Annan calls Iran a democracy? Annan's statement, probably says it all on what my take on the UN and human rights are.
Finally, and probably most disturbing to me and all Iranian nationalists is the fact that Ebadi is trying to clump Iran as part of a bigger Islamic World, a world of one Islamic culture. Iran and Iranians for the past twenty-five and one can argue for probably fourteen hundred years have been struggling to fight ever joining this 'ummah'. All those who fought for Iran, realize that we are our own civilization, an Iranian civilization as distinct from Islam as the Chinese civilization is from the French. Thankfully, Iranians that think like Shirin Ebadi on a greater Islamic civilization are few and far between.
Ebadi to me has come to represent (as this speech solidified) everything we do not need in Iran today. I think those at the MCI Convention Center will agree with me that Ebadi, with her sweet words, turned her back on all Iranians inside and out of Iran who have died, and are in jails and under torture, today and in the past, who have struggled for Iran, not Islam. To those ninety nine percent who applauded and gave her half a dozen standing ovations, that's something to think about. Is Shirin Ebadi-Mullah Ebadi??