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Nobel Peace Prize Winner Is Iranian Activist Narges Mohammadi

Nobel Peace Prize
Narges Mohammadi was awarded the prize “for her fight against the oppression of women in Iran.” Credit: AlphaTangoBravo -Adam Baker/CC2

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2023 was awarded on Friday to Iranian human rights activist Narges Mohammadi.

The Nobel Committee said she was awarded the prize “for her fight against the oppression of women in Iran and her fight to promote human rights and freedom for all.”

Mohammadi, who is the vice president of the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC), headed by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi was sentenced in Tehran in May 2016 to sixteen years’ imprisonment for establishing and running “a human rights movement that campaigns for the abolition of the death penalty.”


The Nobel Committee’s decision to award its peace prize to Narges Mohammadi comes after more than a year of protests in the country spearheaded by women.

They were sparked in September 2022 after Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old, died in the custody of Iran’s notorious morality police. The unrest rapidly spread across the country, with demands ranging from more freedoms to an overthrow of the state.

Images of Iranian women defiantly setting their headscarves on fire and chanting “women, life, freedom” captivated the world. The authorities have brutally cracked down on the protests and they have largely subsided.

The Nobel Committee chose between 351 nominees this year. The prestigious award comes with prize money of eleven million Swedish crowns ($994,000) and instant international attention.

According to the will of Alfred Nobel, the Swedish inventor of dynamite, the prize should be awarded to the person “who has done the most or best to advance fellowship among nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies, and the establishment and promotion of peace congresses.”

Nobel Peace Prize controversies

In recent years, there’s been a fairly broad interpretation of his intention. Due to its political nature, the Nobel Peace Prize has, for most of its history, been the subject of numerous controversies.

The most recent prize for 2022 was awarded to human rights advocate Ales Bialiatski from Belarus, the Russian human rights organization Memorial, and the Ukrainian human rights organization Centre for Civil Liberties.

Nobel Peace Prize controversies often reach beyond the academic community. Criticisms that have been leveled against some of the awards include allegations that they were politically motivated, premature, or guided by a faulty definition of what constitutes efforts for peace.

The awards given to Mikhail Gorbachev, Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat, Lê Đức Thọ, Henry Kissinger, Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama, and the European Union have all been the subject of controversy.

Foreign Policy has listed Corazon Aquino, Mahatma Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt, U Thant, Václav Havel, Ken Saro-Wiwa, and Fazle Hasan Abed as people who “never won the prize but should have.”

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