Wed 10 December, 2003 13:07
By Inger Sethov
OSLO (Reuters) - Iran's Shirin Ebadi has become the first Muslim woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize and sent a bold anti-war message to the West, accusing it of hiding behind the September 11 attacks to violate human rights.
Reformist lawyer Ebadi, who was recognised for her work for the rights of women and children in Iran, was handed the prize by the head of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Ole Danbolt Mjoes, at a glittering ceremony at the Oslo City Hall on Wednesday.
Ebadi slammed the U.S. administration for double standards in ignoring U.N. resolutions in the Middle East, while using them as a pretext to go to war in Iraq. The audience included Hollywood couple Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, star hosts of Thursday's Nobel concert.
"In the past two years, some states have violated the universal principles and laws of human rights by using the events of September 11 and the war on international terrorism as a pretext," she said in a prepared acceptance speech.
"Regulations restricting human rights and basic freedoms...have been justified and given legitimacy under the cloak of the war on terrorism."
Wearing no headscarf for the ceremony, the 56-year-old who won the $1.4 million prize for her work for the rights of women and children in Iran, lashed out at what she called breaches of the Geneva conventions at the U.S. Guantanamo Bay military jail.
Ebadi said Guantanamo prisoners had been "without the benefit of the rights stipulated under the international Geneva conventions, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the (U.N.) International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights".
Ebadi, Iran's first female judge before the 1979 Islamic revolution forced her to step aside in favour of men, said it was worrying that human rights were violated by the same Western democracies that had initiated the principles.
The laureate said she, like other human rights activists, questioned why some United Nations resolutions were binding to the West and others were ignored.
Ebadi, who has become a symbol of reformist hope in Iran while labelled a political stooge of the West by conservative clerics, also pointed a finger at her own government, urging Tehran to accept that reform is inevitable.
"In fact, it is not so easy to rule over a people who are aware of their rights, using traditional, patriarchal and paternalistic methods," she said.