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Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Shares Stories of Democracy in Iran With Students at Lone Star College-Montgomery

In front of a theatre filled with college and high school students, community members, and representatives from Lone Star College, Shirin Ebadi, recipient of the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize, shared a riveting insight into the democratic movement in Iran and the role of young people and women in that movement.
“We’re very grateful to have the opportunity for Ebadi to share her powerful story with our students and faculty,” said Dr. Austin A. Lane, president of LSC-Montgomery. “It is an honor and pleasure to host this event.”
Ebadi’s lecture, which was translated into English, took place March 26 at LSC-Montgomery. The event was co-sponsored by The Institute for Sustainable Peace, the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, and the World Affairs Council of Houston. After the presentation, Ebadi signed copies of her book, Iran Awakening: One Woman’s Journey to Reclaim Her Life and Her Country (Random House, 2007).
“It’s inspiring to hear the amazing journey Ebadi personally undertook in Iran and worldwide,” said Nithy Sevanthinathan, director of international programs and services at LSC. “Her remarkable presentation about the issues faced by her people helped us realize that not everyone is as fortunate.”
Her lecture began with accounts of the June 2009 presidential election in Iran, in which, according to Ebadi, election results were announced before the votes were counted.
“People opposed this and came to streets in millions stating their opposition and crying ‘Where’s my vote?’” said Ebadi.
Although peaceful protests in Iran are legal, Ebadi explained that the situation soon became violent as the government attacked and arrested citizens accusing them of a revolution. The Iranian government also tried to restrict the flow of information coming into and going from the country, which Ebadi said, caused young Iranians to use communication modes such as YouTube and their mobile phones to share images of the election’s harsh realities with the world.
“Young people want freedom, but right now in Iran it is limited,” said Ebadi. “70-percent of the population in Iran is under the age of 35, so you can see how big a number support democracy.”
Ebadi explained that after the election, the citizens began The Green Movement, a democratic movement comparable to the Civil Rights movement of African Americans that occurred in the U.S.
“Although Martin Luther King, the leader of the Civil Rights movement, was assassinated, the movement did not stop—You see that today with (Barack) Obama in the White House,” said Ebadi. “The movement in Iran is the same, and one day democracy will be brought to Iran,” she said.
Ebadi also explained that women play a key role in the movement and while most are educated and may even hold a high social status, they have limited rights within the country.  
“Democracy and equal rights for women are like two plates on a scale,” she said. “Naturally, women oppose the strict laws and use every opportunity to say so, including peaceful participation in The Green Movement.”
While in the Houston area, Ebadi also spoke at the Greater Texas Peace Jam, a two-day conference for youth who share a vision for change in their community and throughout the world.
In 2003, Ebadi became the first Iranian, as well as the first Muslim women, to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Honored for her pioneering efforts for democracy and human rights, Ebadi received the award for her resolute dedication to strengthen the legal status of women, children, and refugees in Iran.
She has established the Society for Protecting the Rights of the Child, a non-governmental organization that promotes the principle rights of children in Iran, and the Defenders of Human Rights Center, Iran’s leading human rights organization.
LSC-Montgomery is located at 3200 College Park Drive, one-half mile west of Interstate 45, between Conroe and The Woodlands. For more information about the college, call (936) 273-7000, or visit www.LoneStar.edu/montgomery.
With more than 62,000 students in credit classes in spring 2010, Lone Star College System is the second largest and the fastest-growing community college system in Texas and the largest institution of higher education in the Houston area. LSCS consists of five colleges including LSC-CyFair, LSC-Kingwood, LSC-Montgomery, LSC-North Harris, and LSC-Tomball, six centers, LSC-University Park, LSC-University Center at Montgomery, LSC-University Center at University Park, Lone Star Corporate College, and LSC-Online. To learn more visit LoneStar.edu.