Magazine article Foreign Policy

Epiphanies: Shirin Ebadi

Magazine article Foreign Policy

Epiphanies: Shirin Ebadi

Article excerpt

I WAS SITTING IN THE COURTHOUSE [after the Islamic Revolution] when an agent from the justice department came and gave me a letter [saying] I was no longer to be a judge. The women of Iran had lost yet another one of their own.

WE CAN BE MUSLIM and practice democracy. It is only undemocratic regimes that believe that Islam and democracy are mutually exclusive and rationalize their oppression [of others].

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

I'VE TAKEN ON MANY CASES in my career. I was a lawyer in the case of a chain of assassinations ordered by the Ministry of Intelligence against opponents of the government. I was a lawyer on behalf of a reporter who was killed in prison. I was the lawyer for a student who was killed in a police raid on the Tehran University dormitories. Each of these, in their own way, represents a violation of human rights.

A POLITICAL LEADER SHOWS people the way, moving in front of the people and showing them a path. A human rights advocate--and I am a human rights advocate--instead walks behind the people, and, if anyone is left behind, takes their hand and helps them. …

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