News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Another One of Those Profiles in Courage

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Another One of Those Profiles in Courage

"Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi draws wild applause and a few taunts at a speech:"

The applause swelled when Ebadi promised that "I will continue pressing for the release of all the political prisoners in Iran!" and denounced Iran's hostage-taking as an "embarrassing mistake" and "wrong." When Ebadi began to criticize U.S. support for the 1953 coup and U.S. backing of Sadham Hussein during the destructive eight-year Iran-Iraq war, a few people even yelled, "Bravo!"

"It's time to forget past animosities and think about the future," she exhorted. "The people of Iran have no disputes with each other. Over 2 million Iranians live in the U.S., and the U.S. has been very hospitable. The people of Iran and the United States have no differences. It's the governments that are fighting."

At this, an older man with a cane stood up and yelled, "Down with the Republic of Iran!" Another man yelled, "Talk about the political prisoners!" A young man in a black suit chanted "God bless America!" as he gave Ebadi two thumbs down.

The crowd defended her, chanting: "Ebadi! Ebadi!" Campus security moved toward the most raucous hecklers.

"A lady in the audience called me a liar. What am I lying about?" Ebadi asked. "People in Iran demand an advanced democracy in Iran.

"In my book you will read about many human rights abuses in Iran," she continued. "But military invasion of Iran or bombing of Iran is not going to solve this. The people in Iran love their country and are not going to permit it to be a second Iraq. It is upon all of us to work for democracy in Iraq. But democracy cannot be brought to a nation with cluster bombs."

The audience roared, the loudest ovation of the evening.

Then came a difficult question: Knowing what she knows now, someone asked, would Ebadi have joined in supporting the Iranian revolution?

"Yes she would! She's an agent!" the protester in the black suit yelled.

Ebadi paused. She does, after all, live in Iran. Iranian media would beam her words back to Tehran. The crowd waited, wondering if she would publicly disavow the 1979 revolution.

"After citing all the discriminatory laws in Iran to you, I do not think I would have," Ebadi finally answered, choosing her words carefully. "I think you would agree that this is not the right way."

No comments: