Last year’s Nobel Peace Prize Laureate calls for robust freedom of expression in this country for authors from other ones:
Since 1979, when I was removed from the judiciary after clerics ruled that women were too “emotional” to be judges, I have been defending women, children and human rights advocates as an independent lawyer. I learned, sometimes in the face of tragedy, that the written word is often the most powerful – and only – tool that we have to protect those who are powerless. Many of my cases have placed me in opposition to hard-liners in our government. I have been harassed, threatened and jailed for defending human rights and pursuing justice for victims of violence: most recently when I led the legal team representing the family of Zahra Kazemi, an Iranian-Canadian photojournalist who was killed in July 2003 while in detention in Tehran. (She had been arrested for taking photographs of the families of political prisoners outside the notorious Evin prison.) I cannot publish my memoir in Iran. The book would either be banned altogether or censored to such an extent that it would be rendered useless. Publishing my book in the United States would involve risk and repercussions for me back in Iran. I believe, however, that the message of the book is so important that I will happily accept the risk and its possible consequences. If even people like me – those who advocate peace and dialogue – are denied the right to publish their books in the United States with the assistance of Americans, then people will seriously question the view of the United States as a country that advocates democracy and freedom everywhere. What is the difference between the censorship in Iran and this censorship in the United States? Is it not better to encourage a dialogue between Iranians and the American public?