True Islam: Human Rights, Faith, and Women
In her presentation, Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi will tie the efforts she’s made on behalf of women and religious minorities to the world of religious freedom, all while focusing on the importance of human rights throughout. This unique program will help the audience understand the importance of tolerance, perseverance, and belief in human rights for all; and most importantly share easy tools anyone can use to make a difference.
icon search Searchable Transcript
Toggle between list and paragraph view.
[00:00:16.000]The United States is now engaged
in many parts of the world,
[00:00:20.000]especially the Muslim world and
that's a subject that Dr. Ebadi
[00:00:25.600]is going to speak to.
[00:00:27.333]We're encountering this every
day in our foreign policy and
[00:00:31.967]having to find ways to deal
with countries that identify
Muslim, for example.
[00:00:37.734]I also believe that this topic
is of critical importance
[00:00:42.433]because we all care about human
rights, we care about freedom of
[00:00:47.367]religion, about the rights of
women. Those are all issues
[00:00:51.333]that Dr. Ebadi is going to
address in the context of lamb
[00:00:55.900]and -- Islam and trying to
identify what Islam teaches.
[00:01:01.433]I find her title --
intriguing. It's important for
interpretations of Islam.
[00:01:13.600]We're familiar with the
jihadists and the terrorists,
[00:01:18.133]which is one that is divisive,
the vast majority of Muslims
[00:01:22.467]do not subscribe to this
understanding of their religion.
[00:01:26.533]They view Islam as a religion
that teaches the unity of all
[00:01:31.200]people, in fact the Koran
says that all human beings are
[00:01:37.467]children of Adam and Eve and
should be members of the same
[00:01:40.667]family. It also says that
nations should come to a better
[00:01:43.433]understanding of one another,
should cooperate with one
[00:01:45.734]another. These are teachings
that I think many Americans
[00:01:48.300]don't know about.
[00:01:48.867]But if we're going to be so
heavily engaged in the Islamic
[00:01:52.734]world as we are, it's important
that every American have this
[00:01:54.834]more refined understanding and
I think Dr. Ebadi is going
[00:01:59.800]to help us achieve that.
[00:02:02.900]Islam is a face.
[00:02:04.767]And a way of life.
[00:02:09.000]A way of peace.
[00:02:09.867]Peace with God, peace with
oneself, and peace with
[00:02:18.133]the creation of God.
[00:02:20.200]The rules of
submission, to God and
[00:02:26.033]the commitment to his guidance.
[00:02:27.300]Now neither Mohammed, Jesus
nor -- peace, we upon them, have
[00:02:34.967]came to changes of the -- of the
one God, the same God.
[00:02:41.367]That has been brought by the
[00:02:46.400]But it was both a confirmation
and renewal of that belief.
[00:02:54.000]Islam is a divine message
that follows and continues the
[00:02:58.934]same moralistic methods and
religions of Mohammed, and
[00:03:06.967]Jesus. The main
differences, the essence of
[00:03:10.967]the message is the same.
[00:03:14.400]We also have a remarkable
community of Muslim mainly
Sudan and Iraq.
[00:03:25.233]With no doubt such topic can
help build a great mutual
[00:03:34.066]respect and understanding
in the community.
[00:03:38.266]The status of women and Islam
and the rights of women and
[00:03:43.700]Islam is one of the most
controversial and misunderstood
[00:03:47.033]topics in Islam.
[00:03:48.900]There is a lot of
misinformation about Islam.
[00:03:57.200]There is misrepresentation by
the media or also there is
[00:04:04.900]misunderstanding by individuals.
[00:04:07.367]So there is a concern about
that conflicting views.
[00:04:12.133]So bringing that topic for the
public and for the -- to open
[00:04:19.734]the dialogue so we can learn and
clarify the complex view, it is
[00:04:30.834]very important nowadays.
[00:04:32.767]I am so excited that
Dr. Ebadi is coming to Nebraska.
[00:04:36.600]I think she is a remarkable
individual, she has shown great
[00:04:42.533]courage, she is a model to so
many human rights advocates.
[00:04:46.600]As someone who has passionately
devoted her life to the service
[00:04:50.166]of the rights of others.
[00:04:52.500]Whether women, children, people
of other religions.
[00:04:55.934]And I think it is a
great privilege for us
[00:04:58.867]to have her here.
[00:05:00.166]♪ Music ♪
[00:05:30.166]I'm honored to welcome you
to the Thompson forum on
[00:05:36.433]The University has partnered
with the lead center for the
[00:05:40.233]performing arts to bring to
Lincoln thoughtful speakers to
[00:05:44.066]engage the University of
Nebraska community and the
[00:05:46.266]general public in important
issues that affect all of us in
[00:05:48.567]this contemporary world.
[00:05:50.633]The lecture series
is named in honor of
[00:05:57.433]the late E.N. Jack Thompson.
[00:05:58.500]Few individuals were
as supportive to
[00:06:02.300]the University as he.
[00:06:02.734]We're grateful to the
foundation for its support.
[00:06:06.100]This evening's lecture
is the Lewis Harris
[00:06:11.734]lecture on public policy.
[00:06:12.667]This was created to examine
major public policy issues and
[00:06:15.934]to provide a special opportunity
for interaction between
[00:06:18.400]students, the business
community and the academic
[00:06:22.500]community in Nebraska.
[00:06:22.900]The Harris lecture was endowed
by the SmithKline course to
[00:06:27.500]honor its former chairman, the
late Lewis B. Harris, founder of
[00:06:32.233]Harris laboratories, one of the
leading independent scientific
[00:06:35.533]testing and research
[00:06:37.667]We're indebted to the
Harris family for
[00:06:40.367]their continuing support.
[00:06:41.200]It is now my honor to
introduce Dr. Shirin Ebadi.
[00:06:45.166]And welcome her to the
University of Nebraska Lincoln.
[00:06:48.934]As an Iranian lawyer and human
rights activist Dr. Ebadi was
[00:06:54.000]awarded the Nobel peace prize in
2003 for her significant and
[00:06:58.633]pioneering efforts in democracy
and human rights, especially the
[00:07:02.700]rights of women and children.
[00:07:03.934]She is the first Iranian and
first Muslim woman to receive
[00:07:10.834]the prize. She's the founder
and leader of the association
[00:07:13.567]for children's rights in Iran,
the author of a number of
[00:07:17.233]academic books and articles
focused on human rights and has
[00:07:20.567]had several books
translated into English.
[00:07:23.233]In 2006 random house published
her member war, Iran awakening.
[00:07:29.934]At the conclusion of this
evening's lecture Dr. Ebadi
[00:07:34.133]will be available for
signings in the lobby.
[00:07:37.033]She has spoken out clearly and
strongly in her country of Iran
[00:07:41.433]and far beyond its borders. She
has stood up as a professional
[00:07:45.266]person who has argued for a new
interpretation of Islamic law
[00:07:48.767]which is in harmony with vital
human rights such as democracy,
[00:07:52.400]the quality before the
law, religious freedom,
[00:07:56.400]and freedom of speech.
[00:07:58.133]She earned a law degree from the
University of Tehran, from 1975
[00:08:03.233]to 79 she served as
the president of
[00:08:06.967]the city court of Tehran.
[00:08:07.300]After the revolution in 1979,
she was forced to resign.
[00:08:11.967]Previously a professor at the
University of Tehran she now
[00:08:17.467]works as a lawyer. She has
been involved in a number of
[00:08:20.567]controversial political cases.
[00:08:22.500]She was the torn for families of
writers and intellectual who
[00:08:26.467]were victims of the serial
murders in 1999-2000. She was
[00:08:31.233]worked to reveal the principals
behind the attacks at Tehran
[00:08:36.500]University in 1999 where several
students dies. She has been
[00:08:42.433]imprisoned on numerous occasions
much she has displayed great
[00:08:47.834]personal courage defending
individuals and groups. And her
[00:08:50.567]ability to cooperate with
representatives of various views
[00:08:53.633]leads me to present to Dr.
[00:08:56.266]Dr. Shirin Ebadi one of the
highest honors the University of
[00:08:59.433]Nebraska Lincoln can award.
[00:09:00.734]To present the award I
would invite Dr. Ebadi
[00:09:05.633]to join me on the stage.
[00:09:18.233]Since 2000 the University of
Nebraska Lincoln has on occasion
[00:09:22.367]conferred the which
Willa S. Cather medal
[00:09:28.800]service to the world at large.
[00:09:32.567]neb nebs's moat
internationally renowned author.
[00:09:37.066]She achieved preeminence by
expressing special relationships
[00:09:42.967]among people facing the
challenges of the frontier.
[00:09:47.567]persons who have responded to
the frontiers of human rights,
[00:09:51.266]the humanities or the arts.
[00:09:53.233]Past recipients of this award
include former Soviet Union,
[00:09:59.934]Archbishop Desmond TuTu, and
Ruth Bader Ginsburg and
[00:10:06.266]William H. Rehnquist.
[00:10:10.734]Please accept this award
for your courageous
[00:10:13.934]and humanitarian life work.
[00:10:33.734]Please welcome Dr. Ebadi to
present this evening's
[00:10:39.467]E.N. Thompson forum titled
"True Islam: Human Rights,
[00:10:45.600]Faith, and Women" (Applause).
[00:10:56.600]A respectable chancellor of
the University, and respectable
[00:11:09.500]professors, your students,
ladies and gentlemen:
[00:11:29.467]I am very glad that I had the
opportunity to come to your
[00:11:32.867]state, your state which
produces food, and the to meet
[00:11:41.133]its very warm and nice people.
[00:11:45.333]And I'm also very proud
to be speaking at
[00:11:50.300]this university with you.
[00:11:58.734]And I want to thank the
University for the very valuable
[00:12:05.033]medallion that I
[00:12:13.934]I will place it on my
desk as a symbol of
[00:12:22.700]the kindness of your people.
[00:12:30.066]And I also want to thank all
the organizers of tonight.
[00:12:51.200]Ladies and gentlemen, yesterday
was the beginning of the
[00:12:54.033]negotiations of the government
of the United States with the
[00:12:56.500]government of Iran regarding
the nuclear issue.
continue, and the results
[00:13:12.467]have not been announced yet.
[00:13:32.400]I hope that they reach a
desirable conclusion and the
[00:13:36.800]government of Iran accepts the
resolutions of the
[00:13:45.433]-- United Nations
and the international
[00:13:50.133]community and enforces them.
[00:13:54.500]In the past month the gallop
institute published statistics
[00:14:01.033]which are very surprising to me.
[00:14:20.600]The gallop institute claims
that upon a study that has been
[00:14:24.834]conducted in Iran over 50
percent of the people of Iran
[00:14:28.567]agree with the nuclear
program of the government.
[00:14:43.000]And regarding the relations
between Iran and America, over
[00:14:47.567]60 percent of the people
think America is at fault.
[00:15:00.233]The important issue here is that
[00:15:04.333]the government of Iran does
not permit live people
[00:15:12.967]to go and take statistics.
[00:15:21.000]The government of Iran is a
police state, a security state.
[00:15:24.900]And people do not have the right
of free speech. So the study is
[00:15:37.600]being conducted by Gallop
via telephone and e-mail.
[00:15:51.133]It's very natural that in a
police state people do not dare
[00:15:55.467]speak against the government.
[00:16:10.133]Just imagine sitting in your
living room, someone calls and
[00:16:13.333]asks you do you think that
Iran is at fault or America.
[00:16:17.300]What do you think that
person is going to respond?
[00:16:23.600](Laughing in audience).
[00:16:27.100]Specifically with regard to
the fact that most telephone
[00:16:30.000]conversations are under
control and tapped.
[00:16:48.300]And also e-mails are under
control. So when one receives
[00:16:51.300]an e-mail asking them whether
they agree with the nuclear
[00:16:57.533]program, very few may say
what they want to say.
[00:17:07.633]And as a professor of a
university, I'm surprised how
[00:17:12.100]Gallop has published
[00:17:24.300]In general one of the
oppositions of the people to the
[00:17:27.700]government is the issue
of nuclear energy.
[00:17:31.433]People do not agree
with that program.
[00:17:46.800]This is not good for the
environment in Iran, and besides
[00:17:50.467]the fact that Iran is located
on earthquake faults.
[00:17:54.000]And there is always the danger
of an event like
[00:18:01.734]the Fukushima event.
[00:18:16.400]Insisting on the nuclear
program and on the continuation
[00:18:20.567]of that program has resulted in
placing sanctions that have
[00:18:26.800]resulted in the
poverty of the people.
[00:18:38.467]Therefore as an Iranian I really
am suspicious of the results
[00:18:43.533]that gallop has published.
[00:18:54.934]The other objection of the
people of Iran to the government
[00:18:58.567]is the foreign policy
of the government.
[00:19:16.100]And this wrong foreign policy
has resulted in the -- I will
[00:19:20.667]give you an example.
[00:19:43.200]Whereas as a result of the
uprising of the people in Syria,
[00:19:46.667]100,000 people have been killed
over a million have been
[00:19:51.500]dispersed and are refugees.
[00:19:54.834]And -- bombard these people.
[00:20:09.967]The government of Iran, through
sending military personnel, arms
[00:20:16.133]and money supports special
attacks and helps them in
[00:20:19.834]killing his own people.
[00:20:38.767]Also during the past month a
ship was forfeited during which
[00:20:46.767]process arms were found on the
ship that the government of Iran
[00:20:49.767]had exported for the people of
Yemen, for the people who were
[00:20:55.700]about to rye I don't
think -- riot in Yemen.
[00:21:13.467]Iran has committed many wrongs
in its foreign policy. I just
[00:21:16.734]gave you a few examples. But
what I want to say here is that
[00:21:20.133]the foreign policy of Iran has
resulted in its isolation.
[00:21:35.367]And the other issue is the very
strong objection of the people
[00:21:40.200]to violation of -- violations
of human rights in Iran.
[00:21:51.700]The people of Iran in
1979 through a revolution
[00:21:59.700]toppled the Monarchy.
[00:22:13.000]But asking a dictator does not
guarantee a democracy.
[00:22:33.367]And we have seen recently in the
Arab spring in countries like
[00:22:39.300]Egypt, like Libya, like Tunisia, the dictators have
[00:22:44.967]been ousted but we still don't
see democracy there. And this
[00:22:55.100]is why the people of these
countries, specifically people
[00:22:57.800]of Egypt, state that the
revolution is still ongoing.
[00:23:16.767]After the revolution in Iran, a
religious Islamic government
[00:23:21.300]came into existence which is
even stronger dictatorship than
[00:23:26.934]the Shah's regime.
dictatorship is stronger
[00:23:42.433]than political dictatorship.
[00:23:47.166]After the revolution
of 1979 many changes
[00:23:53.500]were made in the law.
[00:24:02.066]For example, in the laws,
discrimination on the basis of
[00:24:05.667]religion has been approved.
[00:24:11.367]And I will give you a few
examples of those.
[00:24:32.367]Pursuant to the law, the
life of a woman is worth
[00:24:37.767]half of that of a man.
[00:24:38.934]This means that if me and my
brother go on the street and get
[00:24:42.567]involved in an accident, and
are injured the same, the
[00:24:47.166]compensation paid to me is half
of that paid to my brother.
[00:24:59.400]Pursuant to the law, testimony
of two women in court equal
[00:25:03.266]testimony of one man.
[00:25:13.133]A man can marry four wives.
[00:25:17.333]He can divorce his wife any time
he pleases. But divorce is very
[00:25:21.133]difficult for women,
sometimes even impossible.
[00:25:28.700]And many other
[00:25:40.734]These laws have been imposed on
a society which has very well
[00:25:47.433]educated and meritorious women.
[00:25:54.133]Over 60 percent of the
[00:25:59.834]in Iran are female.
[00:26:03.867]Many of our university
professors are women.
[00:26:13.200]Women are present in all
[00:26:25.166]The women of Iran gained the
right to vote over 50 years ago.
[00:26:30.300]And they were elected
to the Parliament.
[00:26:32.800]This is even before women in
Switzerland gained such vote.
[00:26:47.100]Evidently these discriminatory
laws are not compatible with the
[00:26:52.433]merits of Iranian women.
[00:27:04.633]This is why women do not agree
with the government of Iran and
[00:27:08.533]the feminist movement
is very strong in Iran.
[00:27:17.233]Also pursuant to the
law, discrimination on
[00:27:21.133]the basis of religion exists.
[00:27:36.667]The official religion of the
country, Shi'ism, but there are
[00:27:43.700]other religions, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, have been recognized.
[00:27:59.467]This means that other religions
are not recognized officially.
[00:28:04.700]For example, Baha'I.
[00:28:17.700]And the Baha'Is are deprived
their rights, they have been
[00:28:43.500]But discrimination is not only
against the Baha'Is, even the
[00:28:48.233]religions that have
been recognized in
[00:28:53.033]the law are not
equal to the Islam.
[00:28:59.133]I will give you an example now.
[00:29:13.200]Pursuant to the penal
code, an act,
[00:29:21.400]if committed by Muslim and
[00:29:35.166]can bear different punishments.
[00:29:42.633]Pursuant to the law, if a woman
and a man, neither of them being
[00:29:48.000]marry married, get
involved in sexual
[00:29:51.834]relations, they have
committed a crime.
[00:29:53.800]The crime bears 100 lashes of
flogging for each person.
[00:30:20.533]But if the girl is a Muslim and
the man is a non-Muslim, for
[00:30:26.400]example a Christian, the
punishment of the girl would
[00:30:29.867]still be the 100 lashes of
whipping, whereas the punishment
[00:30:34.934]of the man would increase
to death penalty.
[00:30:47.967]And of course it's more expanded
than the example that I gave
[00:30:51.567]you, but I will suffice
with the one example.
[00:31:04.200]Freedom of speech in
Iran is very limited.
[00:31:26.400]Pursuant to a report of the
reporters without borders, so
[00:31:31.667]far as respect for freedom
of speech of the media is
[00:31:36.433]concerned, among 179
countries, Iran is the 174th.
[00:31:57.633]Unfortunately the number of
political and ideological
[00:32:01.200]prisoners is very high.
[00:32:14.333]The slightest criticism on even
writing an article can result in
[00:32:20.133]the arrest and imprisonment
of the person.
[00:32:44.000]In many instances it has been
seen that people break their
[00:32:47.867]silence and admit against
themselves under torture and
[00:32:53.834]then their admission
[00:33:15.200]And this is why sanctions have
been placed against Iran in
[00:33:19.934]regards to the use of satellites
for broadcasting programs that
[00:33:26.266]Iran prepares for the --
for outside the country.
[00:33:44.266]But the more important issue
that I want to talk about
[00:33:46.734]tonight is what is the
justification of Iran for having
[00:34:01.934]The government of Iran
claims that these laws
[00:34:07.300]are based on Islamic Shiria.
[00:34:24.500]The government tells the people,
you're either a Muslim and you
[00:34:28.333]accept these laws, or you're not
a Muslim and heresy, of course,
[00:34:33.667]bears one of the very
strong punishments that
[00:34:37.800]we can think of.
[00:34:48.033]Like any other religion
and eye ideology,
[00:34:54.433]Islam has different interpretations.
[00:35:05.767]In the west there are churches
that accept abortion, there are
[00:35:09.300]churches that do not
[00:35:13.400]and they're both
[00:35:36.967]I remember approximately two
years ago I was speaking at one
[00:35:41.000]of the very well-known
Universities in America.
[00:35:45.000]The pastor of the church there
came to me and very openly and
[00:35:49.767]easily stated that he was
gay and he introduced
[00:35:54.066]his partner to me.
[00:36:06.133]Whereas there may be other
pastors or priests that do not
[00:36:08.934]agree with that and prohibit it.
[00:36:13.433]Whereas they all follow
the same religion.
[00:36:22.333]Therefore it's not strange
if I say that Islam
[00:36:35.400]If we look at the plight of
women in different Islamic
[00:36:40.100]countries, we can prove that.
in Saudi Arabia,
[00:36:57.633]women cannot even drive.
[00:37:02.567]Let alone holding
[00:37:30.767]But in a country like Indonesia, which has the most number of
[00:37:35.700]Muslims, the population is over
200 million Muslims, a woman
[00:37:40.834]was -- became the
president years ago.
[00:37:54.500]Or in countries like Bangladesh
and Pakistan, for years ago we
[00:38:00.700]have had women, Prime
Ministers and presidents.
[00:38:08.734]And so please let me know
which one of these countries
[00:38:13.266]are enforcing Islam.
[00:38:35.333]Or punishment such as cutting
off the hands of a thief or
[00:38:41.100]stoning, there are only
enforcing in very few countries.
[00:38:46.233]For example Saudi Arabia.
[00:38:47.367]And unfortunately in Iran,
after the revolution,
[00:38:52.333]such laws were passed.
[00:39:09.033]But many other Islamic countries
have put an end to such
[00:39:14.533]punishment, like Indonesia,
[00:39:33.100]Therefore as we can see, the
non-democratic governments that
[00:39:37.533]are Islamic, like the government
of Iran, abuse the word "Islam"
[00:39:43.600]in order to justify
[00:40:03.734]But right here I have to state
that I believe in separation of
[00:40:09.834]church and -- or state, or
separation of any religion and
[00:40:16.300]ideology from the government.
[00:40:27.300]This way the governments cannot
abuse the emotional beliefs of
[00:40:33.633]people. But if people freely
elect a president, for example,
[00:40:53.533]from an Islamic party,
what do we do then?
[00:41:09.734]Like what happened
in Iran in 1979
[00:41:14.633]1979, over 95 percent of the
population of Iran voted for an
[00:41:30.900]Sore what has happened in
Tunisia and Egypt recently,
[00:41:35.800]people have voted for
an Islamic party.
[00:41:52.233]Under these conditions we have
to say that the democratic
[00:42:00.433]characteristic of a government
is not only dependent on the
[00:42:04.333]votes of the people.
[00:42:12.800]Let's not forget that many
dictators were elected by the
[00:42:17.600]votes of the people,
[00:42:24.266]Therefore winning an election
does not mean democracy.
[00:42:34.266]Democracy has a framework
which has to be observed.
[00:42:51.033]This means that the majority
that have been elected by the
[00:42:55.600]people have to work
within that framework.
[00:43:05.333]The framework of democracy is
the standard of human rights.
[00:43:23.567]In other words, governments
don't get their legitimacy only
[00:43:27.367]from the votes of people.
[00:43:29.233]They get their legitimacy from
the votes of the people and
[00:43:33.800]respect for human rights.
Islam is a religion that if
[00:43:53.900]interpreted correctly will --
has the potential of
[00:43:59.133]compatibility with human rights.
[00:44:14.133]And Islamic governments do not
have the right to disregard
[00:44:18.066]standards of human rights on the
basis of religion or the fact
[00:44:21.600]that they have gained
the votes of the people.
[00:44:35.467]Cultural relativity in no
way permits violations
[00:44:40.333]of human rights.
[00:44:52.200]And this is an issue
that Muslims have to pay
[00:44:57.467]allot of attention to.
[00:45:18.867]I hope that the people who have
up risen in Arabic countries
[00:45:25.834]like Egypt, like Libya, and like
Tunisia do not face the same
[00:45:30.200]destiny that the
people of Iran faced.
[00:45:38.066]In Iran people have
been fighting for
[00:45:42.967]democracy for years.
[00:45:52.367]But the people of Iran have had
a revolution and eight years of
[00:45:57.967]war with Iraq during
the last 34 years.
[00:46:01.033]And they are tired
of blood shedding.
[00:46:12.066]That's why they want reform.
[00:46:14.166]This means that whatever
happens has to be peaceful.
[00:46:21.834]And fortunately Iran has good
[00:46:25.767]potential for reform.
[00:46:29.867]The war -- workers movement
is very strong in Iran.
[00:46:36.934]The feminist movement,
the student movement are
[00:46:40.533]both very strong in Iran.
[00:46:47.667]The civil society in
Iran is very active.
[00:46:59.200]And I'm sure that democracy
will come to Iran.
[00:47:09.900]And until that day each
Iranian will continue
[00:47:16.033]his or her struggle.
[00:47:20.533]Thank you very much for
having listened to me.
[00:47:22.900]If there are questions,
I'll take them.
[00:47:40.133]Thank you very much.
[00:47:41.600]If you have questions, please
get a card from one of the
[00:47:45.000]ushers and write your
questions on the card.
[00:47:47.633]Give it back to the ushers, and
they will bring them to the
[00:47:50.967]front so that we can ask
those questions this evening.
[00:47:55.133]While waiting for some questions
to come from you and the
[00:47:58.600]audience, let me begin with a
question that comes from one of
[00:48:02.166]the students in the
[00:48:06.500]What limitations do you think a
strict theocracy like Iran would
[00:48:13.200]face if democratic rights were
afforded to all people?
[00:48:39.166]I gave you my
explanation of democracy.
[00:48:55.867]And I said that in a democracy
the government has to be elected
[00:48:59.800]by the votes of the
people and has to observe
[00:49:04.633]the standards of human rights.
[00:49:22.533]And since the first principle of
human rights is equality of all
[00:49:29.100]people, regardless of gender,
regardless of religion,
[00:49:33.066]regardless of race and so on, if
democracy comes, all of the laws
[00:49:38.834]that I talked about tonight
here, which are discriminatory,
[00:49:43.166]have to come to an end.
[00:49:45.300]And be repealed.
[00:49:53.800]And as I said earlier, I want to
add that the people of Iran
[00:49:59.734]have been fighting for
[00:50:04.533]years for democracy.
[00:50:09.967]And every day the number of
the opposition grows, and the
[00:50:14.900]government loses its
space among people.
[00:50:25.533]Under these conditions, only
a foreign enemy or a military
[00:50:30.333]attack would be to the
advantage of the government.
[00:50:46.834]This means that if
Iran is attacked
[00:50:51.266]attacked militarily, the
people will forget about their
their government and
[00:50:56.266]defend their country.
[00:50:56.600]And again, it means that
democracy will be postponed.
[00:51:05.867]Democracy can only grow in
a -- in a peaceful country.
[00:51:21.834]This is why the people of Iran,
although they have strong
[00:51:27.033]criticisms against the foreign
policy of Iran, they still are
[00:51:31.166]against a military
attack on Iran.
[00:51:36.967]How should the United States
respond to and deal with Iran or
[00:51:43.000]the kind of follow-up to the
last question, what can or
[00:51:46.533]should the United States or
other western governments do to
[00:51:50.467]help promote reform in Iran?
[00:52:12.734]Any change in a society has
to come from within the society.
[00:52:22.200]Democracy is not merchandise to
be exported to a country.
[00:52:52.633]The best thing that the
western countries can do
[00:52:56.000]is not to help the dictators.
[00:52:58.734]People know what
their duties are.
[00:53:07.233]I want to give
you an example.
[00:53:16.433]As we know, all
dictators are corrupt,
[00:53:21.767]and they have stolen
a lot of money.
[00:53:24.033]Where do they take their money?
[00:53:27.700]They deposit them in
Europe -- in your banks.
[00:53:33.633]Don't accept dirty money.
[00:53:50.967]When the dictators are
toppled or when they retire
[00:53:54.367]and -- what do they do?
[00:54:03.367]They purchase palaces
in America and Europe
[00:54:10.066]and live comfortably there.
[00:54:11.066]Don't let them in.
[00:54:19.567]Therefore the most
important issue is not
[00:54:23.133]to help the dictator.
[00:54:28.967]But intervention in the
domestic affairs of other
[00:54:32.700]countries is not correct.
[00:54:40.767]Fighting for democracy and human
rights is a duty of the people
[00:54:43.900]of Iran, and they're
doing that very well.
[00:54:56.967]Would you talk more about how
feminists or women are active in
[00:55:01.300]Iran under such oppressive
[00:55:06.266]the government or control?
[00:55:33.633]In Iran women who fight
for equal rights are
[00:55:37.900]oppressed by the government.
[00:55:45.667]At the present time we have over
50 feminist women in prison.
[00:55:57.233]The charges brought by the
prosecutor against them is
[00:56:02.233]having taken measures against
the national security.
[00:56:10.133]I represented some
of these women,
[00:56:25.767]and when I was in court,
I told the prosecutor if a woman
[00:56:29.567]says I don't want my husband to
marry another wife, does that
[00:56:33.533]mean that America is
going to attack us?
[00:56:48.200]Unfortunately courts are
not independent in Iran.
[00:56:58.266]And one of the fines of the
weakness of democracy is when
[00:57:05.000]courts do not have independence.
[00:57:13.900]And this is why many of our
feminists are in prison.
[00:57:23.033]But for each woman put in
prison, ten replace them.
[00:57:33.533]And I will give you an example
from one of my clients so that
[00:57:37.667]you will know better
how women fight.
[00:58:00.266]My client who was a young
woman, was a journalist.
[00:58:04.467]And the prosecutor had taken her
to court for having written a
[00:58:10.867]few articles criticizing
[00:58:32.166]When the investigation started,
the prosecutor formed her that
[00:58:37.033]if she plays -- pays a very
hefty bail, that he would
[00:58:41.967]release her until
the trial started.
[00:58:51.934]But then this young girl said,
no, I'm -- I can't do that.
[00:58:57.000]But I will promise you to be
present on the day of trial
[00:59:00.834]because I'm innocent and I'm --
there's nothing to be afraid of.
[00:59:05.166]I haven't done anything wrong.
[00:59:24.133]But the prosecutor got very
angry at her and said that, I
[00:59:29.166]will send you to prison, and I
will keep you with women who
[00:59:32.867]have committed murder
so that you will
[00:59:35.667]understand what that is.
[00:59:35.967]Then you'll come to me and ask
to place bail and be released.
[00:59:49.066]And since she did not ask for
bail, they sent her to jail.
[01:00:10.400]Two days later she called me and
[01:00:12.367]she said that there are seven or
eight women here who have been
[01:00:16.700]charged with serious crimes and
they don't have an attorney.
[01:00:19.767]Can you come up with
attorneys for them?
[01:00:33.200]I asked my colleagues who worked
pro bono in such cases to go
[01:00:38.567]talk to these people, and they
accepted representation of them.
[01:01:01.533]Then a week later she called and
she said, there is no library
[01:01:05.834]in the women's prison.
[01:01:07.533]Can you ask all the colleagues
and all your colleagues and the
[01:01:11.734]people that we know each to
bring five books so that we can
[01:01:15.433]create a library for
the women in prison?
[01:01:22.800]And in a few days, a good
library was set up in prison.
[01:01:39.967]And women who had been accused
of serious crimes, when they saw
[01:01:43.967]what she's doing for them,
trusted her and befriended her.
[01:02:02.800]Then she started teaching them a
class on women's rights and to
[01:02:08.533]talk to them about the
discriminatory laws and all the
[01:02:12.567]injustices that exist in
the laws against women.
[01:02:23.967]She only taught these classes
for a few days when the head of
[01:02:27.133]the prison went to
[01:02:36.300]And asked that this
young girl be released
[01:02:42.133]because she's making.
[01:02:50.133]Because she's turning every
woman in prison into a feminist,
[01:02:52.133]and we cannot control her.
[01:03:00.867]This is one example of the
struggle of the Iranian women.
[01:03:06.266]Are international sanctions
effective in changing public
[01:03:10.834]policy in Iran?
[01:03:13.133]Do the people suffer more
than the government?
[01:03:32.967]I am against economic
sanctions against Iran.
[01:03:42.300]Because the government is
not going to fall as a
[01:03:46.000]result of economic sanctions.
[01:03:49.533]You have tried this
in the case of Iraq.
[01:03:59.533]Saddam Hussain was
sanctioned for ten years,
[01:04:06.767]but he did not fall.
[01:04:12.800]But unfortunately thousands of
young children died as a result
[01:04:18.567]of not having access to
medication and vaccinations.
[01:04:29.166]Therefore, economic sanctions
only hurt people.
[01:04:41.033]I always suggest a
political sanction instead
[01:04:47.166]of economic sanction.
[01:04:56.967]And what I mean by political
sanctions are sanctions that
[01:05:01.500]will weaken the government but
will not hurt the people. And
[01:05:09.734]there are few examples of that.
[01:05:34.934]For example, people who have
held high positions like
[01:05:39.400]ministerial positions for the
last five years should not be
[01:05:44.800]let into western countries.
[01:05:46.500]And if they have property in
such countries, those properties
[01:05:49.700]have to be forfeited.
[01:06:01.967]I know that the government of
the United States has come up
[01:06:05.934]with a list of people
who would be sanctioned,
[01:06:11.033]but this list is
not long enough.
[01:06:12.200]They have to add to it.
[01:06:20.834]Another way that one can weaken
a government is to place
[01:06:26.633]sanctions on satellites.
[01:06:35.633]The government of Iran has 16
television channels in different
[01:06:41.400]languages for the consumption of
people outside of Iran.
[01:06:58.734]They lie on the television
programs, they create hatred
[01:07:03.266]against other people.
[01:07:05.433]And it's a propaganda
television in general.
[01:07:17.367]And they broadcast their
programs on European
[01:07:22.433]and American satellites.
[01:07:30.834]Don't let the government of
Iran use your satellites.
[01:07:36.700]What about the people of Iran?
[01:07:51.133]These were just two
examples that I gave you.
[01:07:54.667]But we can come up with a long
list of things that can be done
[01:07:57.700]that would hurt the government
but not the people.
[01:08:01.300]After the last election,
the uprising was
[01:08:05.533]quickly and violently stopped.
[01:08:07.000]Do you believe Iran can have a
fair and honest election?
[01:08:11.767]Is the green movement of the
young generation still strong?
[01:08:15.033]What future do they face?
[01:08:37.834]Unfortunately elections have
never been free in Iran.
[01:08:46.900]Because in every election, be it
for the Parliament or
[01:08:55.000]presidency, the competence of
the candidate has to be approved
[01:08:57.567]and confirmed by the
[01:09:00.166]There is a vetting process.
[01:09:09.200]And any person who has the
slightest criticism of the
[01:09:12.967]government will not pass
that competency test.
[01:09:21.266]The members of the guardian
council are not elected by the
[01:09:26.033]people, but appointed by
the supreme leader.
[01:09:36.533]And with the filter that exists,
in reality free elections in
[01:09:42.567]Iran have no meeting
mean -- meaning.
[01:09:56.834]And one of the demands of the
people is free elections. But
[01:10:02.533]unfortunately, with the
laws that exist now,
[01:10:04.500]it's not possible.
[01:10:05.066]You say when Islam is
interpreted correctly, it is
[01:10:11.734]compatible with human
rights and gender equality.
[01:10:15.433]How do you reconcile human
[01:10:20.633]rights and gender equality with the Koran?
[01:10:56.533]Unfortunately the 34 years
experience that we have had with
[01:11:00.300]the government of Iran proves
that they are not going to
[01:11:03.633]accept any other
interpretation but their
[01:11:08.567]interpretation of Islam.
[01:11:16.467]And this is why.
[01:11:18.633]Although people are Muslims and
they believe in their religion,
[01:11:23.166]but they disagree
with this government.
[01:11:36.200]And the people of Iran who voted
for an Islamic government
[01:11:42.200]years ago on the basis
of a free election
[01:11:47.767]have become secular now.
[01:11:58.900]And they know that religion has
to be separated from government
[01:12:03.800]so that politicians don't use
religious beliefs of people.
[01:12:29.166]Therefore, my response to
your question is that another
[01:12:32.600]interpretation of Islam during
this government is not possible
[01:12:37.834]because they're not
going to accept it.
[01:12:40.967]One last question, or request.
[01:12:44.066]Please tell more
about the persecution
[01:12:52.100]of the Baha'I, in Iran.
[01:13:00.500]Baha'I-ism is a religion
that came into existence
[01:13:06.000]approximately 200 years ago.
Baha'Is live in Iran now.
[01:13:25.266]Unfortunately the Baha'Is
are deprived of their
[01:13:29.433]civil and political rights.
[01:13:48.133]Not only they cannot work for
the government, they will not be
[01:13:51.433]employed by the government, but
even if they want to engage in
[01:13:56.800]businesses where a
license is required,
[01:14:01.600]they are not provided licenses.
[01:14:07.467]They're even deprived from
going to universities.
[01:14:15.700]And from the beginning of the
revolution up to now, the young
[01:14:21.734]Baha'I have not been permitted
to attend University.
[01:14:27.800]And this is what I call
a cultural genocide.
[01:14:45.500]But in order to send their young
people to university and get
[01:14:50.166]them a university education, the
Baha'Is put up a university using
[01:14:56.467]the home of one of the
-- their co-patriots.
[01:15:11.867]And there were a few professors
who will also Baha'Is and taught
[01:15:17.200]the young people.
[01:15:29.867]Unfortunately the government
found out about the unofficial
[01:15:33.967]Baha'I University and
apprehended -- closed down the
[01:15:37.767]University, apprehended and
imprisoned the professors.
[01:15:50.700]At the present time a number of
Baha'Is are in prison.
[01:15:59.567]Among them being seven of
the Baha'I leaders in Iran.
[01:16:06.000]They have each received
20 years of imprisonment.
[01:16:16.133]The prosecutor had charged
them with espionage
[01:16:22.200]for Israel and the
[01:16:26.800]I was the attorney
for the seven Baha'Is.
[01:16:33.300]And defended them in court.
[01:16:40.633]I read their files from the
beginning 'til the end.
[01:16:48.867]There was no evidence to prove
the charge that the prosecutor
[01:16:53.166]had brought against them.
[01:17:13.667]But since the courts have lost
their independence and their
[01:17:18.300]decisions are based on the
demands of the security
[01:17:22.934]officers, each of
these people received
[01:17:28.200]20 years of imprisonment.
[01:17:31.233]And they have been in prison for
approximately seven years now.
[01:17:38.633]And they live under
very bad conditions.
[01:17:46.767]And as I said earlier,
on top of the seven leaders,
[01:17:51.367]there are other Baha'Is who are
[01:18:15.600]Due to international pressure,
prosecutors cannot announce that
[01:18:22.033]these people are in prison
because they are Baha'Is,
[01:18:25.967]that's is why they come up with
charges such as having taken
[01:18:30.133]measures against national
security or espionage.
[01:18:43.834]As an attorney who has defended
many of such cases, I expressly
[01:18:50.000]state that they are in prison
due to their religion.
[01:18:55.333]Please join me in thanks
Shirin Ebadi for joining us.
Log in to post comments