Wednesday, June 18, 2008

PROFILE: Shirin Ebadi facts ...

I'm again typing out some hand-written notes found in my study, this time of a TV interview with Iranian lawyer Shirin Ebadi.

(Seriously, I've got some really radical stuff in this room. Someone should ring MI6 and send them over to raid my room. Then again, London trains have enough litter on them as it is.)

[01] Ebadi was a judge during the Shah's era. However, the same regime punished her for her political choices. Her brother-in-law was executed and she was stripped of her position on the Bench. She was then imprisoned. So why did she go through all this? She responds: "I'd rather be a free Iranian than an enslaved attorney".

[02] Ebadi says many highly Westernised and liberal Iranians were "hypnotised" by Khomeini's revolution. They saw it as a better alternative to the Shah's brutality.

[03] Iran's 1979 revolution mobilised, educated and ultimately frustrated Iranian women. The rhetoric of the revolution promised to break down patriarchy, but merely replaced it with new forms of discrimination.

[04] The 2005 elections saw a clear majority voting for Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.

[05] Iran's society is youthful, literate and web-savvy. Iran has thousands of activist NGO's. Iranian universities have more women than men. Farsi is the 3rd most popular online language (after English and Mandarin Chinese). There are tens of thousands of Iranian blogs. Hundreds of newspapers, periodicals and magazines are published with thinly-veiled political and philosophical debate. Full-page debates on post-modernism and other philosophical topics appear in major newspapers. Iran isn't what many Westerners think it is.

Words © 2008 Irfan Yusuf

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