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Iranian activist Narges Mohammadi wins Nobel Peace Prize

WATCH: Iran's jailed women's rights advocate Narges Mohammadi won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday in a rebuke to Tehran’s theocratic leaders and a boost for anti-government protesters.

Iran’s jailed women’s rights advocate Narges Mohammadi won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday in a rebuke to Tehran’s theocratic leaders and boost for anti-government protesters.

The award-making committee said the prize honored all those behind recent unprecedented demonstrations in Iran and called for the release of Mohammadi, 51, who has campaigned for both women’s rights and the abolition of the death penalty.

“This prize is first and foremost a recognition of the very important work of a whole movement in Iran, with its undisputed leader, Narges Mohammadi,” said Berit Reiss-Andersen, head of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

“If the Iranian authorities make the right decision, they will release her so that she can be present to receive this honor (in December), which is what we primarily hope for.”

There was no immediate official reaction from Tehran, which calls the protests Western-led subversion.

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But semi-official news agency Fars said Mohammadi had “received her prize from the Westerners” after making headlines “due to her acts against the national security.”

FILE – Iranian Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi, center, adjusts her scarf, as she speaks with fellow activists Narges Mohammadi, right, while Marzieh Mortazi looks on, prior to her press conference at the Center for Protecting Human Rights in Tehran, Iran, Monday, Jan. 17, 2005. AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File

Mohammadi is currently serving multiple sentences in Tehran’s Evin Prison amounting to about 12 years imprisonment, according to the Front Line Defenders rights organization, one of the many periods she has been detained behind bars.

Charges include spreading propaganda against the state.

She is the deputy head of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, a non-governmental organization led by Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

Mohammadi is the 19th woman to win the 122-year-old prize and the first one since Maria Ressa of the Philippines won the award in 2021 jointly with Russia’s Dmitry Muratov.

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“This Nobel Prize will embolden Narges’ fight for human rights, but more importantly, this is in fact a prize for the ‘women, life and freedom’ movement,” Mohammadi’s husband Taghi Rahmani told Reuters at his home in Paris.

Click to play video: 'Vancouver takes part in worldwide rallies one year after the death of Iran’s Mahsa Amini'
Vancouver takes part in worldwide rallies one year after the death of Iran’s Mahsa Amini

‘INSPIRATION TO THE WORLD’

The Nobel Peace Prize, worth 11 million Swedish crowns, or around $1 million, will be presented in Oslo on Dec. 10, the anniversary of the death of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, who founded the awards in his 1895 will.

Past winners range from Martin Luther King to Nelson Mandela.

Committee head Reiss-Andersen began her speech by saying, in Farsi, the words for “woman, life, freedom” – the protest slogan – and saying the award recognized the hundreds of thousands who have opposed discrimination and oppression of women in Iran.

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The award came as rights groups say that an Iranian teenage girl was hospitalized in a coma after a confrontation on the Tehran metro for not wearing a hijab.

Iranian authorities deny the reports.

Click to play video: 'Iran’s morality police return to streets for headscarf patrols'
Iran’s morality police return to streets for headscarf patrols

Mohammadi’s win also came just over a year after the death of Mahsa Amini in the custody of morality police for allegedly flouting the Islamic Republic’s dress code for women.

That provoked nationwide protests, the biggest challenge to Iran’s government in years, and was met with a deadly crackdown.

Among a stream of tributes from major global bodies, the U.N. human rights office said the Nobel award highlighted the bravery of Iranian women. “We’ve seen their courage and determination in the face of reprisals, intimidation, violence and detention,” said its spokesperson Elizabeth Throssell .

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“They’ve been harassed for what they do or don’t wear. There are increasingly stringent legal, social and economic measures against them … they are an inspiration to the world.”

Iranian female human rights activist, Narges Mohammadi, looks on while attending a session in the former office of the Defenders of Human Rights Association in central Tehran, Iran on November 19, 2007. Photo by Morteza Nikoubazl/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Mohammadi’s brother said the prize was overwhelming and he hoped it would make Iranian campaigners safer. “The situation there is very dangerous, activists there can lose their lives,” Hamidreza Mohammed told Norwegian public broadcaster NRK.

Dan Smith, head of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute think tank, said that while the prize could help ease pressure on Iranian dissidents, it would be unlikely to lead to her release.

(Reporting by Gwladys Fouche, Nerijus Adomaitis, Terje Solsvik and Tom Little in Oslo, Parisa Hafezi in Dubai, John Davison in Baghdad, Anthony Paone in Paris, Charlotte Van Campenhout in Brussels; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Andrew Cawthorne)

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