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A Tribute to Shirin Ebadi

TIME Magazine Piece on Shirin Ebadi - November 2007

"Her personal courage, unwavering commitment to the Rule of Law and determination to defend the weak against injustice are qualities that mark out an extraordinary lawyer and woman."

Once you reach later life, it’s harder to find new heroes or heroines. But Shirin Ebadi is exactly that to me - and to millions of other people around the world.
Her personal courage, unwavering commitment to the rule of law and determination to defend the weak against injustice are qualities that mark out an extraordinary lawyer and woman.

But then there are her achievements. The first female judge in Iran’s history. The first Iranian and the first Muslim woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. A forceful campaigner for human rights. An example to us all, as a devout Muslim, that faith and moderation, tradition and modernity can go hand-in-hand. And all this while bringing up a family…….

It would have been easy, indeed perhaps sensible, when the Iranian revolution took place to have faded into the background. As a woman, Shirin was told she was disqualified from being a judge. She even found herself barred, until she regained her licence, from practising as a lawyer at all. Seeking a quiet life would have prevented the death threats, the imprisonment, the harassment and almost constant fear which have dogged her ever since. But Shirin is made of sterner stuff.

She has risked everything to continue the fight for justice in her own country. She has an almost reckless belief in the principles she learnt at law school. In high profile case after case, her training, intellect and eloquence have been used to champion the rights of women, of children and political prisoners within Iran

Nothing, not even her discovery from official papers that her assassination had been casually considered, has stopped her. But nor has it dented her love for her country.

And while the authorities see her as a thorn in the side, she has won the love and admiration of those whose rights she has championed. Despite little publicity within Iran for her Nobel Prize win, thousands went to the airport to welcome her home.

Lawyers often get a bad press, sometimes with good reason. But Shirin Ebadi makes me immensely proud to belong to the same profession.