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A Muslim woman's place is in society: Nobel Laureate


ABU DHABI Iranian Nobel Laureate and human rights activist Shirin Ebadi on Monday implored Muslim women to assume a wider role in their home countries through education and active participation in politics.

"Women must fulfill their duty to society and not stay at home," she told participants in the Festival of Thinkers forum in Abu Dhabi.

Ebadi said that young girls tend to become housewives after they graduate, which means that "their education is wasted."

"Women should be educated... Education is an obligation under Islam. Why do we oppose our religion's decrees?" asked Ebadi who spoke in Farsi.

"Why has the level of illiteracy gone up in Islamic countries? ... Education is a duty and literacy is an obligation for us, just like prayers are."

She also urged women in Muslim countries to participate in elections, citing the times of the Prophet Mohammed when everybody would take part in offering allegiance to the leader.

Ebadi, founder of the Centre for the Defence of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic, in 2003 became the first Iranian and Muslim woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her work to support democracy and human rights, especially for women and children.

In 1975, she became the first woman to preside over a legislative court in Iran. However, she was demoted to a secretarial position following the Islamic revolution in 1979 as conservative clerics argued that Islam prohibits women from assuming judiciary roles.

Ebadi, who currently teaches at the University of Tehran, did not refer in her speech to the political situation in Iran, where unrest erupted after the disputed re-election of incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June.

Copyright 2009 AFP. All rights reserved. More

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A Muslim woman's place is in society: Nobel Laureate

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