- NEWSWEEK: Is your prize a watershed for democracy in Iran?
SHIRIN EBADI: I hope it is. I always acted within the law; I never did anything that was illegal. I support peaceful protests. But when things go wrong I’m there to defend the victims, for free. In 1999, when the student dormitories were attacked, I defended one of the victim’s family in court and this is what led me to be jailed. So I hope that this prize will give supporters of human rights in Iran the courage and the energy to continue. As a matter of fact, the biggest benefit of this prize is to show that it still is possible to stay in Iran and work for the advancement of human rights there.
Do you think that the regime can reform itself or is it stuck in a deadlock between the reformers and the old guard?
I believe that it still is possible to bring reform to the regime, but it is now high time for action as well as pragmatic thinking. Even in Iran where there hasn’t been any significant reform, the number of people who support reform has increased. It gives me hope that it will eventually happen.
Can human-rights exist in an Islamic republic?
There is no contradiction between an Islamic republic, Islam and human rights. If in many Islamic countries human rights are flouted, this is because of a wrong interpretation of Islam. All I’ve tried to do in the last 20 years was to prove that with another interpretation of Islam, it would be possible to introduce democracy to Muslim countries. We need an interpretation of Islam that leaves much more space for women to take action. We need an Islam that is compatible with democracy and one that’s respectful of individual rights…..
Very glad to hear it – best of luck to you for all of our sakes.