Technology is increasing public awareness, which has resulted in the people of the Middle East taking to the streets to demand their rights, according to Shirin Ebadi, the winner of the Nobel Peace prize in 2003.
Speaking at SOAS, the School of Oriental and African Studies, in London on February 2, Ms. Ebadi said in response to a question from euronews that the instant influence of technology makes it easy to see what happens in other regions and to follow suit. “Technology has robbed sound sleep from dictators,” she said.
The disruption imposed on the internet in Egypt in the midst of protests against President Hosni Mubarak was a way of disrupting connectivity between the people, she added, and was reminiscent of similar actions by Iranian authorities after the June 2009 disputed presidential election that brought the largest crowds to Iran’s streets since the revolution in 1979.
Ms. Ebadi was the first female judge in Iran, but she was demoted after the Islamic revolution, which brought forward discriminatory laws against women. At SOAS she gave a lecture to a full house on the role of women in promoting peace in the Middle East. Organisers said hundreds could not fit into the lecture hall but live streaming facilities were provided in another room.
PROTESTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND HUMAN RIGHTS
The victory of the people in the region is a step towards the victory of human rights, Ebadi said and warned that the people must preserve their achievement.
“Democracy is like a flower. You must water it daily and check the light if you want to keep it alive. You can’t pour a bucket of water in your flower pot and go back to it a month later.”
When people oust a dictator they must be careful, otherwise another dictator may take their place, Ebadi went on, adding: “That’s how some revolutions end in despotism.”
“It’s your fault if your flower dies. If a nation loses democracy, it’s the people’s own fault.”
MUBARAK ON HIS LAST LEGS
For Ebadi, freedom of expression is limited in the Middle East, but the people of the region have begun demanding their rights.
The era of dictators has come to an end because technology has brought people closer and has boosted awareness, she added. “In Egypt, Hosni Mubarak will go. I have no doubt.”
euronews correspondent in London