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Until We Are Free: My Fight for Human Rights in Iran    by Shirin Ebadi order for
Until We Are Free
by Shirin Ebadi
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2016 (2016)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I highly recommend Shirin Ebadi's Until We Are Free: My Fight for Human Rights in Iran to you for its insights into the evolution of the Iranian state to where it is today - and where it might be headed.

Ebadi was the first Muslim woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize and was the first female magistrate of one of Iran's highest courts before the 1979 Revolution. Barred by authorities (as a woman) from continuing in that role, she remained in the country and worked as a human rights lawyer. She also established the Mine Clearing Collaboration Association in Iran, which 'has the second highest number of land mines in the world'.

Not only was Ebadi persecuted (she spent almost a month in prison in 1999 and her life was threatened more than once), but friends and family members suffered greatly as well. Ultimately, Ebadi's marriage was destroyed, and she ended up in exile in the UK. But she continued her life's work, 'seeking justice in the law through upholding the rights of those most vulnerable - women, children, dissidents, and minorities - and pushing for legal change on the battlefield of public sentiment.'

Until We Are Free is often a harrowing read, as we learn about specific atrocities committed by an authoritarian state against free thinkers of all ages. The situation deteriorated after Ahmadinejad became president in 2005 and gave 'free rein to the religious extremists that filled the ranks of the state's voluntary militias.' In 2009, opponents charged election fraud but Ahmadinejad won again and violence against protesters escalated. Out of the country at the time, Ebadi was advised not to return. Her assets were seized and her husband, and later her sister, arrested.

Until We Are Free is an inspiring account of an indomitable woman and her passion - for justice, and for the country she believed that Iran could be again. Her persistence in the face of an all powerful opposition is formidable and most commendable. This book is a must read for anyone who hopes to better understand the complexities of Islam, as well as the Muslim men and women fighting a very hard fight against oppression.

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