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University of Iowa News Release


April 9, 2008

Nobel Peace Prize winner to discuss Iranian reforms in UI lecture

Dr. Shirin EbadiDr. Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian lawyer who received the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for her work advocating human rights in Iran, will deliver the 2008 Levitt Lecture at the University of Iowa at 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 23 in the second-floor ballroom of the Iowa Memorial Union.

Admission to her lecture, "Human Rights in Iran and the Middle East," is free and open to the public. This is rescheduled from an appearance that was originally scheduled for last fall.

The first Muslim woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, Dr. Ebadi was honored for her work in advocating democracy and human rights in Iran. She has been active in politically sensitive legal cases in the Iranian court system and in attempting to reform family law in Iran by seeking changes in divorce and inheritance legislation.

However, her work has often brought her in conflict with Iran's hard-line Islamic leadership, a conflict that has led to a jail term.

A lawyer educated at Tehran University, she was the first female judge in Iran when she was appointed president of the Tehran City Court in 1975. She served in that position until 1979, when the leaders of the newly established Islamic Republic determined that women were not suitable for such posts because it violated Islamic law.

Following the revolution, she was unable to obtain a law license and spent the next years publishing books and law review articles. She finally received a license in 1992 and established a law practice that specializes in politically sensitive cases other lawyers will not accept.

The Nobel award committee said it chose her because of her focus on promoting human rights and democracy in her country. "As a lawyer, judge, lecturer, writer and activist, she has spoken out clearly and strongly in her country, Iran, and far beyond," it said.

The Nobel committee also noted that she had "never heeded the threat to her own safety".

The Richard S. Levitt Family Distinguished Lectureship was created in 1995 through a generous endowment gift from the Levitt family to the Iowa Law School Foundation. The purpose of the Levitt Lectures is to bring to the Iowa campus distinguished national and international figures in law and government to present timely lectures to students, faculty and alumni of the College of Law. Prior Levitt Lecturers include U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, former U.S. general Wesley Clark, former Republic of Ireland President Mary Robinson, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, and four Nobel Peace Prize winners: Elie Wiesel, Abba Eban, Bishop Desmond Tutu and John Hume.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010,