E.N. Thompson speaker to receive Cather Medal

Shirin Ebadi, a human rights activitst and Nobel Peace Prize winner, will receive a Cather Medal from UNL.
Shirin Ebadi, a human rights activitst and Nobel Peace Prize winner, will receive a Cather Medal from UNL.

Shirin Ebadi, a human rights activist and the first Iranian and Muslim woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, will be given UNL’s Willa S. Cather Medal before she closes out this season's E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues on Feb. 26.

Chancellor Harvey Perlman will confer the honor to Ebadi, who will then present "True Islam: Human Rights, Faith and Women" at 7 p.m. at the Lied Center for Performing Arts.

Since 2000, UNL has on occasion conferred the Cather Medal upon individuals whose words and actions uphold the highest values of humanity and service to the world at large. Willa Cather is Nebraska’s most internationally renowned author; the medallion bearing her name honors those who have responded creatively to the frontiers of human rights, the humanities or the arts. Past recipients include Harry Belafonte, Desmond Tutu, Mikhail Gorbachev, Sandra Day O’Connor, William Rehnquist and Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

During her presentation, Ebadi will tie the efforts she has made on behalf of women and religious minorities to the world of religious freedom, all while focusing on the importance of human rights throughout. She'll also share easy tools anyone can use to make a difference.

Ebadi argues for an interpretation of Islamic law that is in harmony with vital human rights such as democracy, equality before the law, religious freedom and freedom of speech.

While free to attend, the lecture does require a ticket. To reserve free tickets, call the Lied Center at 402-472-4747 or 800-432-3231. Tickets may also be picked up in person or ordered by downloading a form from the forum's website, http://enthompson.unl.edu. All tickets are for general admission seating.

Ebadi earned a law degree from the University of Tehran. From 1975-79 she served as president of the city court of Tehran. After the revolution in 1979 she was forced to resign. Previously a professor at the University of Tehran, she now works as a lawyer. She has been involved in many controversial political cases and as a result, has been imprisoned on several occasions.

She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 -- an honor that recognized her significant and pioneering efforts in democracy and human rights, especially for the rights of women, children and refugees.

This season's Thompson Forum lectures have been organized around the theme of religion, rights and politics. A variety of distinguished speakers have been assembled to discuss international religious freedom, the death penalty debate, human rights concerns, and the role of women in religion, among other issues.

Ebadi's lecture will be available live online at http://www.unl.edu as well as on Lincoln TimeWarner Cable Channel 21, UNL campus Channel 8 and UNL's KRNU radio (90.3 FM). Sign language interpreters will be available for the deaf and hard of hearing.