Wednesday, October 15, 2003

This morning, I heard the BBC's report about Shirin Ebadi's homecoming at Tehran's airport. The people the reporter spoke to sounded thrilled. They also spoke perfect English which made me wonder who exactly they were speaking to. It is rare to meet Iranians who speak so well.

Later a friend came over. I asked him about how he felt. "Oh thrilled," he said. "But our president is a jerk. His first comment was that the award was politically motivated."

"Yesterday he congratulated her," I said. ("There is no one who does not delight in the success of his compatriot," Khatami told journalists after leaving parliament, adding that "I am also pleased that a compatriot has achieved such a

"Well maybe it was politically motivated, but it's the Nobel prize, for God's sake. He could have simply congratulated her the first time."

"Did you go to the airport?"

"My sister did."

"What did she say?"

"She said that it was way too crowded for her to get anywhere near anything interesting. 40 or 50,000 people turned out to greet her." (oooh… so that's why it was so easy to find English speakers…)

"On the BBC they said that people were parking their cars on the highway and walking because it was too crowded."

"The government closed the roads to the airport. That's why people had to walk there."

"Did you see what [insert conservative, pro-government newspaper name here] said yesterday," K asked? "It said that if a thousand people show up to greet Ebadi that the government should see it as a rebuke against their policies."

"From what I head," our friend said, "there were tens of thousands of people. It was an amazing turn-out."

"What was the news coverage like here in Tehran," I asked.

"Well they announced it about seven hours later and at the very tail end of the news. It was barely mentioned."

Now, every day the newspapers here write more and more about Ebadi. She gets more column space by the day.

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