Sunday, October 28, 2012

Nobel laureate coming to Chico State University


"Shirin Ebadi," a note about the author says, "was awarded the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to promote human rights ... in Iran. She is the first Muslim woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize" and was also Iran's first female judge. She told her story half a decade ago in "Iran Awakening: One Woman's Journey To Reclaim Her Life And Country."

In that book she wrote: "The Islamic Republic may hold firm to its right to nuclear power, even if it means suffering sanctions at the hands of the international community. ... If the clerics in power detect military strikes on the horizon instead of a negotiated solution, they will find no incentive, no credibility gained, in safeguarding the rights of their citizens. ... The price of transforming Iran peacefully, I have long known but these days feel more acutely, is sacrifice of the highest order." Since 2009 she has lived in exile.

Sacrifice is the focus of her newest book, "The Golden Cage: Three Brothers, Three Choices, One Destiny" ($26.95 in hardcover from Kales Press), translated by Nathaniel Rich. It's the story of Simin and Hossein, their daughter Parì, and her brothers. The account traces that family's intensely personal story as the brothers, Abbas, Javad, and Alì, each respond to the Islamic Revolution in ways that divide the family and estrange the brothers from each other. Alì follows Ayatollah Khomeini, Javad has communist sympathies, Abbas swears by the Shah. It's a heartbreaking story, emblematic of the complex loyalties of the Iranian people.

Ebadi will be speaking at Chico State University's Laxson Auditorium on Monday, November 5 at 7:30 p.m. as part of the President's Lecture Series. Tickets are available through or from the University Box Office, (530) 898-6333. Adult tickets are $27 (premium $32), seniors $25, students and children $15.

Parì despairs for her brothers. "It's as if each one of them has locked himself in a golden cage--beautiful, strong, and as safe and secure as any ideology. But it's still a cage, and they can't see out of it or communicate with each other."

The book's epigraph, from an Iranian sociologist, says: "If you can't eliminate injustice, at least tell everyone about it." And so Ebadi continues to speak.

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