OSLO (Reuters) - Islam and other religions do not threaten democracy, Yemeni activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakul Karman said Friday.
To the disquiet of some in the West, Islamist parties are emerging as big winners from this year’s ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings, having won elections in Tunisia and Morocco and taken a strong lead in Egypt’s multi-stage parliamentary vote.
“All the religions, they respect democracy. They respect human rights, they respect all the values that all of us carry,” said Karman, 32, who will jointly receive the Nobel award on Saturday with two Liberians, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and
The problem was not with religions themselves, said the Islamist journalist, but with the intolerant interpretation made by some of their followers.
“The only problem is the misunderstanding from the people who act — Islam, Christian, Jewish or any other religion — (as if to say) ‘this is THE religion’.”
Karman has been called the “Mother of the Revolution” and played a key part in protests in Yemen that led President Ali Abdullah Saleh to agree last month to step down.
She said she hoped that the ongoing uprising in Yemen would change the image of her country abroad as a terrorist haven.
“Before the revolution, Yemen’s reputation was so bad ... 99 percent they talk about terrorism and (Osama) bin Laden. But ... after the revolution, you will see the real Yemen, which is peace, dreams and achievement,” she said.
The three laureates were recognized by the Norwegian Nobel Committee to highlight the importance of women’s rights toward securing peace. They will receive the prize in Oslo on the 115th anniversary of the death of benefactor Alfred Nobel, and will share an award worth $1.5 million.
Reporting by Gwladys Fouche, Editing by Mark Trevelyan