Iranian activist Shirin Ebadi has won the Nobel Peace Prize. Here's an overview story from the Toronto Globe & Mail.
The prize inevitably sends a political message, but the meaning is not always obvious. On the one hand, giving it to a female judge who lost her position after the '79 revolution is easy to read as a commentary on Islamism. On the other, there's the committee's singling out of her nonviolence, which is easy to read as a slap at what's going on next door in Iraq:
?Her principal arena is the struggle for basic human rights, and no society deserves to be labelled civilized unless the rights of women and children are respected,? the judges said. ?In an era of violence, she has consistently supported non-violence.?
On the third hand–and by the time you get to the third hand, you know you've got problems–there's her insistence that Iranians need to deal with Iranian problems and the world should butt out.
None of these points is mutually exclusive, of course; in fact, they may all underscore what appears to be an interesting, home-brewed revolt that's slowly taking place in the last Islamic country anyone might have thunk. It may well turn out that Iran's internal forces will provide a model for a relatively peaceful transition to democracy and even something like liberalism. Who, after all, would have thought that so many former communist countries in Europe would have basically nonviolent transitions?
Iraj Isaac Rahmim reflected on a life lived under Iranian tyranny in the July Reason.
Chuck Freund took the measure of liberal martyrdom there.