Malaysia bars Nobel laureate Ebadi amid protests

Financial Daily, October 24, 2008
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has revoked an invitation to Iranian Nobel laureate and rights advocate Shirin Ebadi to give a speech following protests by the Iranian government, officials said yesterday.

Human rights groups slammed the move, saying it was inexcusable and showed Malaysia's disregard for fundamental rights. Ebadi, a vocal critic of Iran's human rights record, had been slated to speak on Islam and cultural diversity at Universiti Malaya (UM) on Nov 3.

But UM withdrew the invitation following an objection from its size- able Iranian student community, said a government official who declined to be identified.

But Ebadi told Reuters in Tehran that Iranian students were not behind the cancellation, blaming pressure from the Iranian government.

"I have been told that many human rights groups, both in Malaysia and Southeast Asia, have voiced protest to this decision by the university," she said.
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran and the Asian NGOs Network on National Human Rights Institutions condemned the move.

Ebadi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her efforts promoting the rights of women and children in Iran.