Iran’s Nobel Laureate Has Become a Target of the Regime

Last Thursday, local police stood by and allowed a group of “demonstrators” — most likely thuggish young men dispatched by the regime’s hard-line Basij militia — to attack her home and office. It was the most alarming act of violence the state has permitted against her in nearly two decades of intimidation and threats. In late December, the authorities closed her Center for Defenders of Human Rights on the grounds that it was operating without a permit. Government agents raided her private office, seizing her computers and files. Though the government has long viewed Ms. Ebadi uneasily, it has been forced to abide her in recent years because of the popular base of her support. Until now, the state has bullied her only discretely, and the timing and hostility of the present moves against her say a great deal about both her influence and where Iran stands today.

Next June, Iranians will face one of the most critical presidential elections since the 1979 revolution. Virtually everything that can matter to a nation — from basic freedoms to the economy to relations with the outside world — will be at stake.

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