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Shirin Ebadi still uninvited

Shirin Ebadi (all pics © Shahram Sharif / flickr)

PETALING JAYA, 19 Dec 2008: Nobel Laureate Dr Shirin Ebadi has still not been re-invited to Malaysia despite Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim’s retraction of a ministry-recommended ban.

“Absolutely nothing. We have not received any invitation, or oral or written, formal or informal apology from Malaysia,” Ebadi’s office told The Nut Graph via e-mail.

The ministry had initially issued a letter dated 10 Sept to Universiti Malaya (UM), asking them to withdraw their invitation to Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner. However, Rais reversed the directive following media reports that Ebadi had been banned.

UM deputy vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Mohd Amin Jalaludin told The Nut Graph the university was still contemplating the next course of action.

“We want to meet representatives of the International Peace Foundation, especially Tun Musa Hitam and Uwe Morawetz, to get their advice. We will try to meet them after the New Year to discuss Ebadi’s invitation,” he said today in a phone interview.

UM is one of the local organisers involved in the International Peace Foundation’s Bridges — Dialogues towards a Culture of Peace series of talks by Nobel Laureates.

The Malaysian government had originally told UM Ebadi was seen as promoting a “Western agenda” by the Iranian government, and that Malaysia was keen on “preserving bilateral relations with Iran”.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will be visiting Iran for three days from 21 Dec to strengthen bilateral ties and explore joint-venture opportunities.

Morawetz, the International Peace Foundation’s chairperson, told The Nut Graph recently that Malaysian universities did not appear keen to invite Ebadi despite being persuaded. He also said the foundation had asked the Foreign Ministry to clarify its position on Ebadi but had not received any responses.

Ebadi has been threatened by the Iranian government and media for advocating human rights in Iran. She has faced death threats for her open stance on apostasy, which in Iran is punishable by death.

Her office maintains that it was the Iranian government that pressured Malaysia to ban her from speaking here.

Bridges runs from November 2008 until April 2009 in Malaysia and Thailand. It brings together Nobel laureates such as Timor-Leste President Prof Jose Ramos Horta; former Foreign Affairs Minister and Vice-Chancellor of the Republic of Germany Joschka Fischer; and Rev Jesse Jackson.

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