Religious leaders and Russians favored for Nobel Peace Prize

Wed Oct 10, 2012 10:25am EDT
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By Balazs Koranyi

OSLO (Reuters) - Russian dissidents and religious leaders working for Muslim-Christian reconciliation are among the favorites to win the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize when the result is announced on Friday.

The year has brought few notable peace breakthroughs, leaving an unusually large selection of names in circulation and perhaps increasing the chance of a surprise winner.

"I'm pretty sure the committee would like to honor the monumental events in the Middle East," said Jan Egeland, the Director of Human Rights Watch Europe.

"But as the Arab Spring turns to 'autumn', this is becoming very difficult, so an approach may be to look at those who work for dialogue among religions," said Egeland, a former United Nations under-secretary-general.

The betting agency Unibet favors Maggie Gobran, a Coptic Christian nun who runs a children's mission in Cairo, giving her a 13 percent chance of winning.

Others mentioned include Pakistani philanthropist and welfare worker Abdul Sattar Edhi and Nigerian religious leaders John Onaiyekan and Mohamed Sa'ad Abubakar, who have helped to calm their country's Christian-Muslim violence this year.

A direct recognition of the Arab Spring is unlikely, however, as the committee gave part of its 2011 award to the journalist Tawakkol Karman to recognize her work in Yemen's transformation, and it rarely visits an issue two years running.

RUSSIAN RIGHTS   Continued...

Renowned Pakistan social worker Abdul Sattar Edhi arranges relief supplies for the flood surviviors in Karachi. Renowned Pakistan social worker Abdul Sattar Edhi arranges relief supplies in Karachi for the flood surviviors of the southern Baluchistan province, Pakistan February 14, 2005. REUTERS/Zahid Hussein