Rome (Fides Service) – “This award reopens the challenge of human rights as a field which brings together religions and cultures” said Prof. Justo Lacunza rector of the Pontifical Institute for Arab and Islamic studies in Rome with regard to the news of the assigning of the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize to Iranian lawyer Ms Shirin Ebadi. “The award – he said – must be inserted in a wider context of the place of women in Muslim countries and respect for human rights in the world. Ms Ebadi has worked for years convinced that human rights are not contrary to Islam. Belief in human rights is an essential element in our civilisation and it is part of the debate on reforms, freedom and democracy in Iran”.
In Iran most intellectuals and students react with surprise and satisfaction. “I am surprised but happy, as everyone else. I hope the prize will help open the path for reforms in Iran in the near future” said Habibi Moazemi Goudarzi, author and journalist in Teheran, former correspondent of IRNA News agency in Rome.
“The Ayatollah are smiling because instead of the Pope, a woman and indeed a Shiite Muslim woman has been awarded the Prize” said Prof. Farian Sabahi of Iranian origin who teaches Iranian History at Geneva University in Switzerland. “The award – she added – shows the place of women in Iranian society. It should be noted for example that in 1963 women obtained the right to vote and today 75.2% of the university students in Iran are women. Moreover according to a 2000 reform women can lead prayers and therefore become Imams. Women work and maintain the family and they are also active in politics: Iran has a woman as vice president.” PA (Fides Service 10/10/2003 EM lines 38 Words: 422)