As feminists here and abroad celebrate the fact that three women won the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, Middle East scholar Dr. Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. raises a question that is troubling to those who look beyond the gender of the new laureates:
This year, three women won the Nobel Peace Prize: Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee and Yemeni activist Tawakkul Karman. Kudos to all three, but perhaps it’s time to ask Karman about Islah, the political party to which news reports say she belongs. Back in 2010, The New York Times’ Steve Erlanger did a feature on Al Eman University in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a:
“This university, the size of a village, was founded in 1993 by Sheik Abdul Majid al-Zindani, a revered spiritual leader, theological adviser to Osama bin Laden and co-founder of the main Yemeni opposition party, Islah. In 2004, the United States Treasury put Mr. Zindani on a list of “specially designated global terrorists” for suspected fund-raising for Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.”
Perhaps it’s time to ask the latest Nobel Laureate about the links between the party to which she pays allegiance and Al Qaeda, and her thoughts about the late Bin Laden? Then again, even if she were to embrace the terrorist leader, it’s still par for the course when it comes to the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Nobel Peace Committee has displayed a habit in recent years of turning a blind eye to the actual “achievements,” not to mention the predilections of its winners, as was vividly exemplified by its award to President Obama, ten months into his term in office in 2009, for what the Commitee ludicrously called his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” If that didn’t signal something rotten in the state of Norway, then one need only hearken back to the 2001 Prize to the United Nations and its Secretary General, Kofi Annan, followed briskly a year later by a peace prize to Jimmy Carter.
Who’s next? Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Bashar al-Assad?