In Pristina, the Iranian exiled lawyer speaks of her Muslim faith which allows her freely to not cover her hair, and struggle for women’s education and the end of the patriarcal theocracy in Iran.
Winner of the 2003 Nobel Peace, first Iranian and Muslim woman so honored, Shirin Ebadi is no stranger to rampant humiliation by the Islamic Republic of Iran. One of the first presiding female judges of an important court under the régime of the Shah, she found herself stripped of her rank when the Islamic Revoluation took over. She then converted to the profession of lawyer, and defended the cause of the oppressed and of women generally. In 2009, various signs led her to fear imminent arrest, so she did not return from a trip abroad. Her family and former associates were gravely harassed.
Mrs. Ebadi gives as her place of residence “international airports, since I travel 10 months a year”. She is tireless, and repeats the need to educate women lest the patriarchal forces preserve their grip upon societies in the Muslim world and elsewhere. She was no supporter of the Shah, and under the Islamic Republic she has become a constant critic of the politico-religious system of the Velayat faki instituted by Ayatollah Khomeini.
She believes in God, but will no longer wear the obligatory headscarf as in Iran. We met with her in Pristina, where she addressed the attendees of the Third Interfaith Kosovo conference, speaking about religious extremism, and the need to educate women to empower them and thus beat back patriarcal systems.