Nobel Peace panel stands behind Muslim Brotherhood winner

Tawakkul Karman belongs to Yemen’s leading Islamist party.

October 12, 2011 06:47
1 minute read.
Tawakkul Karman, Yemeni Nobel winner

Karman 311. (photo credit: Reuters)

The chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize committee has dismissed concerns that one of this year’s three recipients, Tawakkul Karman of Yemen, represents a party directly linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Thorbojern Jagland told reporters in Oslo this weekend that he disagrees with the “perception” widespread in the West that the Brotherhood is a threat to democracy.

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“There are many signals that that kind of movement can be an important part of the solution,” he said. “We have included the Arab Spring in this prize, but we have put it in a particular context.

“Namely, if one fails to include the women in the revolution and the new democracies, there will be no democracy.”

Karman, 32 and a mother of three, is a leading member of Islah (Reform), Yemen’s main opposition movement. The movement is split into three wings: a tribal confederacy led by the head of the powerful Al- Ahmar tribe; a political movement that operates under the Muslim Brotherhood banner; and a religious branch linked to the worldwide Salafi movement.

The last of these is led by Abdul Majeed al-Zindani, a Sunni religious scholar and former adviser to Osama bin Laden who is considered a terrorist by the US.

In 2003, the last time the country held legislative elections, the Islah party took 23 percent of the vote. Karman’s selection represents the first time a Muslim Brotherhood member has been singled out for the award.

Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee also shared in this year’s prize, the winners of which were announced Friday.

Following the announcement, Ikhwanweb, the official Muslim Brotherhood website, posted on its Twitter feed: “Yemeni Muslim Brotherhood member Tawakkul Karman wins Nobel Peace Prize.”

In 2004, shortly after joining Islah, Karman appeared in public for the first time without a niqab, or face-covering veil, which she said is not dictated by the strictures of Islam.

The following year she founded the group “Women Journalists Without Chains,” which pushes for greater freedom of expression and female integration in Yemen, a deeply-conservative country and the Arab world’s poorest, where twothirds of women are illiterate.

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