The Nobel peace prize has always been based on political considerations; advancement of peace has had very little to do with it. The Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel--after whom the award is named--reflects the irony of the situation: he invented explosives, hardly the stuff to promote peace. This says much about the kind of peace envisaged by the selection committee. A quick glance at past recipients gives hints of its real nature; they have included indicted war criminals such as Henry Kissinger, Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres. With such a record, it should surprise no one if Ariel Sharon and George Bush were one day conferred this dubious honour. Among Muslims who have received the award are Anwar Sadat and Yasser Arafat, arch-traitors to the cause of the Muslim Ummah who sold out to the zionist invaders of Palestine.
This year’s peace prize recipient--Shirin Ebadi of Iran--took much of the world by surprise even by the selection committee’s dubious standards. Most Western news agencies had speculated that either Pope John Paul II or Vaclav Havel, the former Czech president, would win the award; Ebadi was not on their radar screen. The British news agency Reuters reported on October 10 that the Australian-based Centrebet bookmakers had the Pope 5-2 favourite, followed by Havel at 7-1. There was intense speculation that the ailing pontiff would be this year’s winner of the 10 million Swedish crowns (US$1.32 million) award, out of a field of 165 candidates. Since the peace prize is not awarded posthumously, this year was considered likely to be the Norwegian committee’s last chance to honour the pope, because of his age and poor health. But when Ebadi was declared the winner, even the New York Times – no friend of Muslims or of Iran – had to concede that she is "not particularly well known outside Iran" and "the Nobel committee’s choice came as a surprise to most outside observers" (October 11). In fact, few had heard of her and most people were forced to ask, "Shirin who?"
Ebadi’s selection is akin to the Nobel prize for physics being awarded to a high-school physics teacher. The question that needs to be asked is: what motivated the committee to choose her above 164 other candidates for this year’s award? As president Mohammed Khatami of Iran pointed out, this is a "political award". Ebadi’s selection was based not on what she has done but where she lives and what her role is in that society vis-a-vis the established system. Islamic Iran is the target of a vicious Western propaganda campaign; leading the charge, the US and zionist Israel are targeting Iran’s peaceful nuclear energy programme and have goaded the International Atomic Energy Agency to pressure Tehran (there is not even a hint in the West that anyone thinks that Israel’s arsenal of 250 nuclear weapons might be a threat to world peace). Human rights is another arena where Islamic Iran is being targeted. This springs from a conception that western values are universal, and only these must be implemented. Anyone who dares to suggest an alternative system is backward and must be discredited.
Islamic Iran’s real "fault" is that it refuses to submit to the West’s dictates. If the Norwegian Committee were really serious about awarding its peace prize to fighters for justice in the Muslim world, would be many more suitable nominees; lawyers who have defended victims of the Egyptian government’s brutal persecution of its political opponents, for instance. But Mubarak’s Egypt is an ally of the West. There, activists against the tyrannical regime are branded as "terrorists"; hundreds are being held in jails on trumped-up charges; many have been sentenced to long prison terms by military courts without any recourse to appeal. Much the same situation exists in the territories of other favourite regimes of the West: Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, for example. Even in the West there are brave souls exposing the crimes being perpetrated by the US and Israel. While their criticism of such regimes is relatively mild, there is no thought given to the fact that the US and Israel are far worse violators of human rights than those they accuse; those brave souls in the US and indeed in Israel itself who struggle against such tyranny ought to be given some consideration. Are such names as Ramsey Clark, David Cole, Noam Chomsky or Francis Boyle ever likely to appear on the committee’s list for the Nobel peace prize? How about jewish opponents of zionism, such as Uri Davis, Uri Avnery and the Neturei Karta group?
Awarding the Nobel peace prize to Shirin Ebadi is an act of provocation against Iran and its Islamic system. Most Muslims have seen through the ruse and are not taken in by the ploys used to discredit Islam and Muslims.