In June 2010, the Academic Board of Universidad Europea de Madrid conferred the degree of Doctor Honoris Causa on Shirin Ebadi, the first Muslim woman to have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her commitment to and support of human rights and her fight for freedom and justice.
The investiture ceremony began with a tribute to Ebadi’s life, in which her achievements as a lawyer and activist in Iran were highlighted, as was her constant fight to promote democratic and peaceful solutions to resolve the serious problems facing society, principally those relating to women and children, both in her county and beyond.
The Rector of Universidad Europea de Madrid, Águeda Benito, recognized her feeling of pride “in having such a brave woman with us, who sees what we see but who, unlike the majority, does not remain silent, but indeed speaks out, condemns and who consequently acts, placing her life at risk for the benefit for those who are disadvantaged.”
In addition the Rector drew attention to the fact that the incorporation of Shirin Ebadi into the University faculty, “is the best commitment towards social development and progress,” above all at a “university such as ours, which belongs to an international network and which promotes learning beyond its boundaries.”
The most emotional moment came with the words from Ebadi herself, who emphasized the importance of “the education and the spirit of young Iranians, which will bring freedom to the country.” The Nobel Peace Prizewinner in addition stated that “a systematic violation of human rights exists in Iran, which is protected by an anti-democratic Government and an incorrect interpretation of Islam.” In her opinion, and in spite of the numerous voices of criticism that a raised in respect of the situation in Iran, “we are completely against military or violent intervention, as this would only give the Government an excuse to take more violent actions against their opponents.”
To bring the investiture ceremony to a close, Águeda Benito took the floor once again to remind those present that “the Doctorado Honoris Causa is one of the ceremonies most deeply-rooted in university tradition, and the highest academic distinction.” For this reason, and following the incorporation of the newly awarded Doctor Ebadi, Universidad Europea de Madrid chose to receive the 15 new Doctors who from this moment became members of the faculty. “We have a duty to include such Doctors in our faculty that - in today’s world - know, know how and of course, know how to be”, stated Benito.
The investiture of Shirin Ebadi forms part of the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures announced by UNESCO. By making this appointment, in the same way as the award of the degree of Doctorado Honoris Causa to Nelson Mandela last month, Universidad Europea de Madrid has wanted to recognize the work of people whose role in the social and political environments has served to bring nations closer together through dialogues for peace.
Shirin Ebadi, was born in Hamadan, Iran, and is a lawyer and human rights and democratic activist. She graduated in law from the University of Teheran in 1968, and one year later, became the first female judge in Iran. Following the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Ebadi was forced to resign her post, a situation which substantially increased her fight for the human rights of mainly women and children, not only in Iran, but also beyond its borders. On October 10, 2003, she became the first Iranian citizen and the first Muslim woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
This article was translated from Spanish. For more information regarding this event and Universidad Europea de Madrid please consult their online press office at: http://www.uem.es/es/gabinete-de-prensa and follow them on Twitter: http://twitter.com/uem_prensa.