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Nobel Laureate Sees Iran’s Hard-line Movement Growing

Nobel Peace Prize-winner Shirin Ebadi, a human rights advocate and dissident, has seen the hard-line policies of Iran intensify since the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Ebadi, in Washington to promote her new book, discusses her homeland in an interview with Margaret Warner.

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  • MARGARET WARNER:

    The glittering Nobel Award Ceremony in Oslo's palatial City Hall is a long way from a gritty Iranian prison.

    In 2003, Shirin Ebadi was the first Muslim woman and first Iranian to win the Nobel Peace Prize. She was honored for her fight for women's rights and human rights under Iran's repressive clerical regime.

    Just three years earlier, in the summer of 2000, the Iranian dissident and democracy activist had found herself behind bars in the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran. She was imprisoned for nearly a month for videotaping evidence to prove that Iran's hard-line mullahs were behind a string of violent attacks on Iranian reformists.

    Trained as a lawyer in the days of the Shah, in 1969 she became Iran's first woman judge, but she was removed from the bench after the Islamic Revolution of 1979. The clerics said Islam forbids women to serve as judges.

    She turned, instead, to writing and using the legal system to defend individuals, particularly dissidents and women, against the state and the clerics that ran it. Her activities earned her the enmity of the regime.

    Now she has written an account of her life of activism. Her book, "Iran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope," is being published here, but not in Iran. I spoke to Ebadi recently in Washington.

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