Saturday, April 21, 2007

Iran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope

I just finished a book that's very impressive in its scope and "measured and civil" approach. I'm glad that Shirin Ebadi, principal author of Iran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope (2006), won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work as a writer, judge, lawyer, and human rights advocate. Good call by the Scandinavians.

Ebadi (with the help of Azadeh Moaveni, author of the exquisitely titled memoir Lipstick Jihad) gives great insight into modern Iran and the pressing issues of women's rights, children's rights, and freedom of expression -- set within a framework of Islamic principles. She argues eloquently: "It is not religion that binds women, but the selective dictates of those who wish them cloistered."

Iran Awakening covers a lot of ground -- from Ebadi's childhood to just beyond winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003. She is even-handed, criticizing the U.S. government for its role in overthrowing reformist Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh (in 1953) and for propping up the last Shah of Iran, for its logistical support of Saddam Hussein's regime during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), and (implicitly) for labeling Iran as part of an "Axis of Evil." And while she spends most of her time exploring life and daily issues within the harrowing state of Iran from the 1979 Islamic Revolution through the middle of the 21st century's first decade, she cautions that the U.S. government's veiled threat of attack or invasion "makes Iranians overlook their resentment of the [Islamic] regime and move behind their unpopular leaders out of defensive nationalism."

The inherent Islamic gender issues by themselves would make this a compelling book; the greater historical context makes it even more fascinating and timely. More soon about what Ebadi writes in describing life in a country that doesn't even pretend to separate religion from rule and governance.

Today's Rune: Defense.

Birthdays: Rome (Romulus and Remus), Max Weber, John Muir, Anthony Quinn, Iggy Pop (James Osterberg), Robert Smith, Jerry Only.

Au sa liu mada!


Anonymous said...

I will have to read it. I saw America at the Crossroad, "Faith Without Fear." It was a story on Irshad Manji and her voice against oppression. She is a very brave women to speak out and her life is threatened daily. She had some very thought provoking things to say and I envy her courage. Timely post Erik. MW

JR's Thumbprints said...

Seems like human nature, "to ignore the lesser of two evils." The Shrub is clueless when it comes to foreign affairs. Perhaps he should read this book.

Johnny Yen said...

Great post, Erik. Sounds like a book for my short list.

Good point, JR. Shrub and company don't seem to grasp that other people can be patriotic, and that their president can play to the home crowd too.