In This Review

Until We Are Free: My Fight for Human Rights in Iran
Until We Are Free: My Fight for Human Rights in Iran
By Shirin Ebadi
Random House, 2016, 3014 pp

In 1975, Ebadi became the first-ever female judge in Iran. But after the Iranian Revolution, the new theocratic authorities stripped her of her position, claiming that Islam forbids women to serve as judges. Nevertheless, she was still allowed to practice law, so she founded the Defenders of Human Rights Center and represented abused women, journalists, activists, religious minorities, and many other targets of the regime’s brutality and victims of Iran’s corrupt legal system. In 2003, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, which enraged the regime. For years, she was hounded by intelligence agents, and her clients, relatives, and, ultimately, husband were routinely bullied and threatened. In 2009, she went into exile, where she remains. In this disturbing memoir, Ebadi skims over what may be a fundamental divide in Iranian society, one that separates the elite classes, from which she hails, from the lower-middle classes, which produced most of her adversaries. She has no doubt that a substantial majority of Iranians want to see the back of the regime. Nevertheless, she is not optimistic about the prospects for reform under Iran’s current president, the relatively moderate Hassan Rouhani, although she hopes that he might relax some strictures on public debate.