Shirin Ebadi, 2003 Noble Prize Winner is my heroine

March , 8 2016

Shahnaz Taplin-Chinoy Chair, Invest in Muslim Women

Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel Prize winner is an indefatigable Women’s Rights lawyer with an illustrious history. Extraordinary in her accomplishments, she is well known for defending and expanding the rights of Iranian Muslim women in her career. But now, she has disclosed how the Iranian regime took it upon themselves to illegitimize her for expanding and securing rights and much needed protections for Muslim women in Iran.

Ms. Ebadi is one of a kind: she excels at her work and stands tall on the landscape of Muslim women’s rights and particularly in her home country of Iran. But now she is up against the wall—the wall of Iranian mullahs, determined to both undermine and destroy her. In a moving piece in the NYT, she reveals how the Iranian government, years ago, targeted her husband by setting him up with a woman in his home. When he confessed his betrayal, Ms Ebadi breaks into tears as she begged him to explain in greater detail. The woman played out her pre-scripted role in seducing Ms Ebadi’s husband in his loneliness as he succumbed to the visitor’s advances.

After the seduction, Mr Ebadi was asked to dress by a swarm of intelligence agents who appeared suddenly, surrounding him. Ms. Ebadi tried to stay calm even as she asked her husband the crucial question: “What happened to that woman?” Her husband’s response was “All I know is that they didn’t arrest her,” while Javed, her husband was subjected to solitary confinement in a cell only slightly larger than a bath tub. He was then charged with committing adultery which comes with Article 225 of the Islamic Penal Code, and is subject to the death penalty, by stoning. Under these pressures he agreed to denounce her. They are now painfully divorced.

Iran calls itself an Islamic republic but these actions where a marriage is thwarted, and a woman is used to seduce a loving husband of many decades do not sound to me like the teachings of Islam but rather the contradiction of Islam.

Destroying a long-standing marriage is not Islamic. How much hurt and destruction can a government impose on a smart, strategic, caring wife and families who are living their lives as best they can —— even as they work hard to create a sane, sensible society where families and communities can live peacefully and respectfully with Allah in their hearts and peace in their minds. That’s what Islam is at its core!

Ebadi’s story is not like something out of the Quran, but like one of the many episodes we learned of after the collapse of the Communist Government of East Germany, or from Mao’s Cultural Revolution period. This is the kind of tool used by totalitarian tyranny pure and simple.

The ray of hope is that Iran has a quasi-democratic system, and just as Ebadi’s story was appearing in the Times, election results showed a pronounced shift away from voter support for the hard-liners who support the security forces and towards more moderates. If that trend continues, the kinds of judicial abuses that tore Shirin Ebadi’s family apart may fade into Iran’s path – but today, they are still there as part of its oppressive present.

Our hearts, minds and prayers are with Shirin Ebadi – our heroine and her family.

Join us today in celebrating International Women’s Day 2016 and its campaign theme #PledgeForParity

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