Justice Knows No Bounds: Narges Mohammadi's Nobel Peace Prize Triumph
Middle East and Human Rights Researcher
Global Human Rights Defence
In a blog post published by Global Human Rights Defence just over a month ago, İrem Çakmak delves into the enduring discrimination faced by Iranian women since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.  She begins by shedding light on Article 638 of the Islamic Penal Code of Iran, which dictates that women who violate the loosely defined “appropriate hijab” norms are subject to fines or 10-day incarceration. İrem also discusses the recent “Bill to Support the Family by Promoting the Culture of Chastity and Hijab”, aimed at promoting hijab in society, particularly in schools and universities.  Within her discussion, she commemorates the anniversary of Mahsa Amini, who has become a symbol of the struggle for women’s rights in Iran. 
The focus of today’s article is on another remarkable Iranian woman, Narges Mohammadi. She is a 51-year-old human rights activist who was recently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2023. Mohammadi has embarked on a hunger strike in protest of the Iranian government’s refusal to provide medical care to her and other prisoners, as well as their enforcement of mandatory hijab laws.  While the Nobel Committee expressed deep concern, labelling the requirement for inmates to wear a hijab as “inhumane and morally unacceptable”, Mohammadi’s family believes that the authorities’ refusal to grant her medical treatment is due to her refusal to cover her hair.  Despite doctors recommending her “emergency transfer to the heart and lung centre for urgent medical care”, the highest authorities stated that “sending her to the heart hospital without a headscarf was prohibited”. 
But who is Narges Mohammadi, and why was she imprisoned? What led to her being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize?
Mohammadi has been honoured with the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize for her long standing dedication to combating the oppression of women in Iran. She has also been an advocate for the abolition of the death penalty in a country with one of the highest execution rates globally.  Iranian authorities have arrested her 13 times, convicted her five times, and sentenced her to more than 30 years in prison, including for “spreading propaganda”, which is the reason she is currently incarcerated.  Despite spending most of her time in jail since 2010, Mohammadi has continued to shed light on human rights abuses, even from behind bars. For instance, in a letter from the infamous Evin Prison, she exposed instances of sexual and physical abuse against women who were detained during protests against the government.  She hasn’t seen her husband, political activist Taghi Rahmani, who resides in exile in Paris with their two children, for several years.  Understandably, her fight for women in Iran has come at a “tremendous personal cost”, as noted by the Nobel Committee. 
The decision to award Mohammadi the Nobel Peace Prize has been criticised as “biased” by Iran’s foreign ministry, which claims it aligns with the anti-Iranian and interventionist policies of some European countries.  Mohammadi has received accolades from leaders of other nations, including the United States and France. President Biden praised her incredible courage and called on Iran to release her from prison, while President Macron hailed her as a “freedom fighter”.  This event has also garnered the attention of international organisations; the United Nations, for example, stated that this Nobel Peace Prize underscores the courage and determination of Iranian women and that they serve as an inspiration to the world. 
Narges Mohammadi’s story is a testament to the power of unwavering dedication to justice. She serves as an inspiration not only to the people of Iran but to the world as a whole. Her unyielding commitment to the rights of women and the abolition of the death penalty reminds us that, even in the face of adversity, one person’s determination can spark a movement and change the world for the better. Her journey is a testament to the belief that the pursuit of justice and equality is a cause worth any personal sacrifice.
Sources and further reading
 İrem Çakmak, ‘Iran Passes Hijab Bill, Introducing Harsher Penalties’ (GHRTV World News, 03 October 2023) <Iran Passes Hijab Bill, Introducing Harsher Penalties - Human Rights News> accessed 08 November 2023.
 David Gritten, ‘Narges Mohammadi: Jailed Iranian Nobel laureate begins hunger strike’ (BBC News, 07 November 2023) <Narges Mohammadi: Jailed Iranian Nobel laureate begins hunger strike - BBC News> accessed 08 November 2023.
 Raffi Berg, ‘Who is Nobel Peace Prize winner Narges Mohammadi?’ (BBC News, 06 October 2023) <Who is Nobel Peace Prize winner Narges Mohammadi? - BBC News> accessed 08 November 2023.
 Caroline Hawley, ‘Narges Mohammadi: Iranian woman jailed for rights work wins Nobel Peace prize’ (BBC News, 06 October 2023) <Narges Mohammadi: Iranian woman jailed for rights work wins Nobel Peace prize - BBC News>