10 October 2003

U.S., U.N. Congratulate Iran's Shirin Ebadi for Nobel Peace Prize

Ebadi is first Iranian and first Muslim woman Peace Prize winner

By Phillip Kurata
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- The U.S. government and the United Nations have welcomed the decision of the Norwegian Nobel Committee to award the Nobel Peace Prize to Iranian human rights activist Shirin Ebadi, the first Iranian and the first Muslim woman to receive the prize.

"We congratulate Shirin Ebadi for the Nobel Peace Prize," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.

"The prize is well-deserved recognition of a lifetime champion of the cause of human dignity and democracy. She has worked tirelessly, and suffered at the hands of the clerical regime, including imprisonment for promoting democracy and human rights in her country," he added.

"We are very pleased to see the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to this very, very dedicated and committed woman who has spent so much of her life in the cause of justice and freedom," said Secretary of State Colin Powell.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher issued a statement noting that Ebadi "has tirelessly worked on behalf of all Iranians, with a focus on the rights of women and children."

"We fully support the aspirations of the Iranian people to live in freedom, and hope their call for democracy will be heard and transform Iran into a force for stability in the region," Boucher's statement said.

When informed that she had been awarded the prize, the 56-year-old lawyer and human rights activist, who was in Paris, said, "this prize doesn't belong to me only. It belongs to all people who work for human rights and democracy in Iran."

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan added his voice to the chorus of praise. In a statement issued through his spokesman, Annan noted that Ebadi served as Iran's first woman judge and is noted for her work on behalf of women, children and refugees.

Ebadi is known for her conviction that human rights are fully compatible with Islam, and her interpretation of Islamic law in a way that recognizes the harmony between human rights, democracy and equality before the law, Annan's statement said.

Her work is a fine example of the very principles the United Nations stands for, and this award should serve as an inspiration to women and men, Annan's statement added.

In a statement issued in Geneva, acting U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Bertrand Ramcharan congratulated Ebadi and commented that peace and development depend on the faithful observance of international human rights norms globally.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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