In light of the recent disclosure that President Obama was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize just 12 days after taking office and was initially opposed from the majority of the Committee (here), there is some interest on who was stepped over for the honor. The most striking “loser” in the competition was Dr. Sima Samar, an amazingly brave Afghan woman who has risked her life to fight for the rights of women and girls in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Dr. Samar is the chairwomen of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and was the first Hazara woman to obtain a medical degree from Kabul University, back in 1982. She has had to repeatedly flee for her life but has insisted on returning time and time again to treat the poor and fight for women’s rights — in an area with feminists are routinely killed or sprayed with acid by extremists.
Most incredibly, she stood against the extremism of Sharia law and criticized the use of such religious courts in the country. Her opposition to religious radicals led to her being forced out as Deputy President and later Minister of Women’s Affairs in the interim government of Hamid Karzai. She has even campaigned against the compelled use of the burka and sought to organize and educate women in Taliban-controlled areas.
For civil libertarians, the comparison of Samar and Obama could not be more striking. Where Obama has repeatedly refused to fight for principle and yielded to politics (in areas like torture, privacy, and detainee rights), Samar has refused to yield on principle — even at the risk of her own life. While Obama was in office less than two weeks before his nomination, Samar has spent a lifetime fighting for oppressed women in Afghanistan.
For her story and others passed over for the award, click here.