Ebadi Interview

Over at Salon, Michelle Goldberg interviews Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, who’s currently in the U.S. to promote her memoir, Iran Awakening:

In February, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice requested $85 million for a plan to promote democracy in Iran, partly by funding reformists and dissidents. Has this increased the suspicion and harassment of reformists in Iran?
I think that this is not in favor of democracy in Iran. The people who live in Iran will never dare accept any foreign money, because this would be the first proof of treason.

In January, you co-wrote an Op-Ed in the Los Angeles Times saying that America was undermining Iran’s “fledgling democratic movement” by demonizing the country. As the conflict between our governments heats up, what effect has it had on your country’s reformists?
It’s very well known that any time a country is under threat from outside, the government uses it as an excuse and starts talking about the necessity of preserving national security, and therefore individual liberties suffer.

A recent article in Time magazine suggested that the administration might ratchet up the conflict in order to get Americans to rally around the president again. How worried are Iranians about the possibility of an American attack?
Some people are worried. People are very critical toward the government, but I think that if there is an attack against Iran, people will forget about their criticism, and they will rally with the government. Any attack on Iran will be good for the government and will actually damage the democratic movement in Iran.

Read it all here. (You have to watch an ad before you can access the article.)

Related: Reza Aslan’s review of Ebadi’s book, in the Nation.