from The Progressive Interview, Sept. 04
Q: What's your response to the argument that human rights are just a Western invention and are not applicable to the Middle East?
Shirin Ebadi: The idea of cultural relativism is nothing but an excuse to violate human rights. Human rights are the fruit of various civilizations. I know of no civilization that tolerates or justifies violence, terrorism, or injustice. Those who are invoking cultural relativism are really using that as an excuse for violating human rights and to put a cultural mask on the face of what they're doing. They argue that cultural relativism prevents us from implementing human rights. This is nothing but an excuse. Human rights are a universal standard. They are a component of every religion and every civilization.
Democracy doesn't recognize east or west; democracy is simply people's will. Therefore, I do not acknowledge that there are various models of democracy; there is just democracy itself.