Tehran, Nov. 6 (Reuters): Iran has provided a bodyguard for Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, who has received death threats since her return last month to the Islamic Republic, a colleague said today.
Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, a lawyer at Ebadi’s Centre for Protecting Human Rights, said the organisation wrote to the interior ministry urging them to increase security after threats suggested the laureate’s life was in danger.
“The ministry has given Ebadi a bodyguard and a car... to protect her after she received threats,” said Dadkhah.
Dadkhah said most of the threats were anonymous, but speculated they were warnings from extremist groups.
Torn photographs of Ebadi were found outside her office and one letter read: “We will not let you enjoy this prize”.
Ebadi, a human rights activist, was awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize in October for her efforts on women’s and children’s rights in Iran.
While reformists welcomed Ebadi’s prize, hardliners criticised her for being a servant of “global arrogance”, a term that normally denotes Iran’s arch-foe the US.
Dadkhah said Ebadi did not believe in tighter security.
“She believes that there is no need for a bodyguard and people who love her will protect her,” Dadkhah said.
Ebadi will represent the family of Zahra Kazemi, a Canadian photojournalist of Iranian descent who died after a blow to the head following her arrest for taking pictures outside Tehran’s Evin prison, where many political dissidents are held.
Ebadi was the first woman judge in Iran but was forced to resign after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
She took on a new role representing intellectuals and dissidents in cases others feared to touch.
In 2000, Ebadi was jailed for 22 days for producing a videotape of an informant who alleged some hardline officials and clerics were involved in political violence.