Meet Dr. Sima Samar — The Person Obama Beat Out for the Nobel Prize

225px-Sima_SamarIn 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.

44 thoughts on “Meet Dr. Sima Samar — The Person Obama Beat Out for the Nobel Prize

  1. Quote from the linked article:

    “President Obama says he will donate the $ 1.4 million that comes with the Nobel Peace Prize to charity. As usual he’s being vague about the details, so I have a suggestion for him. How about the Shuhada Organization which was founded by Dr Sima Samar, MD, one of the also-rans for this year’s prize.”

    Or Congolese Dr. Denis Mukwege, also mentioned in the article. Mr. Obama could split “his” monetary award to both worthy causes and among several others.

  2. FFLEO,

    Isn’t he donating the money to various charities and nonprofits anyways? I haven’t heard any specific names. Are you really going to criticize the man because you would rather he donate to some OTHER good cause (assuming that the causes actually are good)?

    I get that you don’t agree with his being chosen, neither do I; it’s not our award to give out. I think that he’s handled it well.

    There are plenty of legitimate complaints to make about his administration, this is just a distraction. I think we should complain about the stuff he can change, not the stuff he can’t.

  3. How do either of the others mentioned fit the criterium of “during the preceding year […] shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses”?

    Neither have done much work “between nations” much less the other aspects of Nobel’s will.***

    This is not a defense of the choice of President Obama, but who else has met the standard set by Nobel this year?

    I suppose they could have not awarded the Prize, there is precedent for that.

    *** Not that the Prize committee has always adhered to the rules, in fact most of the time they have not.

  4. Gyges,

    Would you accept an award to which you were not deserving and what would you cross your mind as you had the ‘gold medallion’ placed around your neck?

    As I stated in another related thread, only a false person accepts a false accolade.

  5. FFLEO,

    I’d probably think something like “now I have to go earn this.” Which is exactly what the President said. I don’t know this for a fact, but I’d be willing to bet that a fairly sizable chunk of Noble Prize acceptance speeches have something to the effect of “I don’t deserve this.”

  6. Sometimes the committee is wise enough to know that peace is simply the absence of war, rather than some heightened state of awareness.

    If Obama can be inspired to resist the toxins of power by their gesture, how many thousands or hundreds of thousands have they saved?

    None of the other candidates for the prize could come close to mitigating the damages scheduled to occur on this globe. He has his fingers on buttons which, if pressed, would lead to the death of billions. Billions.

    Thus, sometimes avoiding war is our only peace.

    One day when corruption is at far lower levels of intensity, we can play who is the most peaceful individual like some religious groups do internally.

  7. Gyges,

    How do you explain Obama going to earn that prize with his actions on detainee abuse and the escalation of troops (being done secretly right now)? These actions have both occurred since his “encouragement” award. I think it’s time to admit that Obama simply did not earn this award, that there are many other people who would have been a honestly good choice and this is exactly analogous to awarding Bremmer and Tennant the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It is simply wrong.

  8. Jill,

    You’re arguing with the wrong person. I never said that in my opinion President Obama deserved the award. Just that it’s not our award to give, and that I understand the committee’s rational. It’s an award funded by a private fund and selected by a committee selected by a private organization. Even if everyone else on the planet feels that the President didn’t earn this award, the Nobel Committee disagrees; it’s their award to give out.

  9. Really a strange article. Rather than congratulate the President on his election and wish him success in his announced vision and plans for nuclear withdrawal, climate change and social and economic advancement Turley choose to argue that there’s someone better out there. Surely, at any point in time there are countless numbers of very special people who deserve praise and recognition.
    However, the case now is that billions of folks across the globe view this man, this US President, as the greatest hope for mankind in at least a generation He needs to be encouraged in his quest by us all, including the Nobel Committee.

  10. A lot of the people carping about BHO’s Nobel don’t seem to understand the fear and dread most of our allies, as well as the rest of the civilized world, felt toward the savage, deadly, and misguided policies of the Cheney administration and its neocon advisors.

    John McCain, a guy who while campaigning joked about bombing Iran in order to ingratiate himself to simpleton republicans, promised to continue the same neocon menace. And, of course, his running mate — a cancer survivor’s heartbeat away from controlling the world’s largest military and most deadly nuclear arsenal — was a blithering idiot and yapping nationalist.

    I can EASILY understand why the Nobel Committee felt the world was an infinitely safer place because BHO kept these two out of the White House.

    Does BHO deserve the prize?

    Hell, yes!

  11. hm

    It’s ironic how the man who is helping push us deeper into the conflict/war in Afghanistan would beat out a woman who is trying to honestly help its people (at the risk of her life). I am a little disturbed, to be honest. What is going on? Shouldn’t we be progressing as a species instead of turning our back on improvement?

    The prize is not meaningful, it’s the principle and values behind the medal and money. I think Nobel prizes should be able to be taken away if one is found to be undeserving. I mean retroactively too! Henry Kissinger didn’t deserve his for SURE. Take it away. Make him give back the money and pay for all the innocent blood he spilled. Absolutely shocking what this “world” considers valient.

  12. Let Obama keep his prize money. Instead he should sit down immediately “for a beer” with Dr. Samar to get her advice on what he should do about our military “presence” in her country.

  13. You’re right Gyges, I did mean others who believe in the “encouragement” award. I apologize to you.

    As to some of the cult statements-there were many people in the world who were appalled by this award. I am certain the parents of the dead children in Afghanistan do not feel Obama is the greatest hope for mankind in a generation. There were loud voices of international and US dissent.

    I would also like to challenge the idea that one man should be looked to by anyone, let alone, supposedly the whole world, as our savior. This is the vision of a dictatorship. There are no saviors. there is, “we the people”. If we want peace we will have to work for it ourselves.

  14. This is ridiculous. I would say the same thing if McCain had won and was in the same situation.

    Most of the criticism about this topic is going more towards Obama than the system that gave him the award. He didn’t steal the damn thing.

  15. YEAH it’s all OBAMA’s fault for not REJECTING the award immediately!!! what a liberal fascist commie!! USA! USA!

  16. President Obama convinced the majority of American voters that he could bring change and reform to our national government thus improving our lives and our futures. Obviously, he also impressed a great many foreigners with his message. We know what he promised is possible. If he overestimated his own abilities to fulfill that promise, he will slip off the world’s stage a failed man undeserving of any reward. If he succeeds, the accolades will live long after he has passed on. His actions will determine his fate while in either case we will look for a new leader.

  17. This lady sounds like a very much deserving person to have received the damn thing to start with. Why not?

  18. Bob, Esq. “I’m sensing a strong anti-Obama vibe.”

    I don’t get it; Professor Turley is usually so gracious it almost seems like he is trolling his own blog (3xtoday)!

    I’m with gyges and rcampbell on this one. There are a lot of things for which President Obama may be criticized; but because five or three or two Norwegians love him isn’t one of them!

    I’m repeating myself from another thread but I still predict that the phrase “He won a Nobel prize, but….” will become as trite as “We put a man on the moon, but…”

  19. CEJ,

    I don’t get it; Professor Turley is usually so gracious it almost seems like he is trolling his own blog (3xtoday)!

    So why can’t he stop by and see how his people are? It has gotten mucky and not ducky when he has been doing what makes him what he is.

    So if he wants to be a troll here, why not? I could not think of a brighter troll. Well, yes I can. nal, now nal is my favorite protagonist. But hey, he corrects the professor and I guess the trolling professor likes it, so why not.

    He has given nal the tramp stamp of approval, by lauding him. So maybe you are correct he is trolling.

  20. Ay,

    Thank-you, you really did make me laugh; but I think you may be reading my words with more snark and hyperbole than was intended. Of course I still admire Professor Turley that goes without question; and you too AY, although tonight you have not succeeded at annoyance. Please don’t try again, save yourself for tomorrow.

    P.S. Why must you so often bring nal into things; it is like “Hi nal, so good to have finally met my inferiority complex!”
    Just because he gets first crack at all of our organs; that is no reason to be jealous!

    P.P.S Again I’m just kidding. Sleep well and sweet dreams.

  21. hyperbole, yeah that is a good one. I was accused by a judge of doing that. I thanked her. I was really proud, until I went home and looked up the definition. Yes, before computers, they did have books. That’s another chapter by the way.

  22. Why so much hatred for President Obama?

    He did not fall off of the turnip truck on Jan 20.

    Do you people honestly not realix=ze the insult that would result had the President said, on no, I don’t want your stinking prize.

    Just quit your whinning and move on to some other criticism. Whinning is so low class.

  23. I get sicker and sicker as time goes on with the actions of the Obama administration. We had such high hopes that he would reverse Bush policies. Of course we were projecting our fantasies and frustrations onto him. There were a few teases when he took office. But, he has proved himself to be a Republican Lite politician. Dr Samar is amazing and she fully deserves the prize. I am even more sickened by the fact she was passed over for Obama. Speaking of Afghanistan, haven’t the Dept of State or Defense read “Three Cups of Tea?” The way to effect change there is to educate girls and empower women. Not military, not use of force, simple humanitarian building and maintenance of schools, roads, and bridges.

    I am planning to not vote in the next few election cycles. We need more than two political parties, and we need a democratic socialist party, that would uphold the Bill of Rights and Constitution, in our country.

  24. I forgot to add – Thank you Jonathan Turley for bringing attention to Dr Samar. I had not heard of her before reading your excellent blog.

Comments are closed.