Parvin Ardalan, an Iranian dissident was expected to fly to Stockholm this week to receive the Olof Palme Prize for outstanding achievement in the spirit of former Prime Minister of Sweden. She would share this honor with other illustrious recipients of the award who include Kofi Annan, Václav Havel, Wei Jingsheng, and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, among others. Ms. Ardalan was sentenced to three years imprisonment in April, 2007, for threatening national security, a sentence that she is appealing. Today, Amnesty International reports that she has been prevented by the Iranian police from leaving the country:
"[After boarding an Air France flight to Stockholm] They took my passport and asked me to refer to the presidential office department for passport affairs after 72 hours to take it back," she said. "The only reason for this move is to prevent me from taking part in the ceremony. I think this is unreasonable."
Ms. Ardalan, is a champion of equal rights for women and religious and cultural minorities, who have faced discrimination under draconian Islamic Law in Iran, since Ayatollah Khomeini seized power in 1979. The Telegraph reports:
"I am from the destroyed generation of the revolution," she said. "I always ask myself what happened that within a few months it was suddenly bad for me to ride a bicycle as a girl. I was thrown out of school for not wanting to wear a headscarf."
There are signs that the campaign for equal rights, and against theocratic tyranny, is winning more and more hearts and minds in Iran. Just last week, riots broke out in Tehran, when the Iranian Chastity Police attempted to arrest a young woman for wearing colorful clothes that violated the strict dress code for women. The officials fled the scene as the crowd chanted: "We don't want the Islamic republic."
The spark that started a prairie fire? Let's hope!