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Are We Allowed To Support The Palestinians, Or Not?

A Iranian volunteer registering for a suicide attack
After a peaceful gathering against the violence in Gaza was broken up this week in Iran, Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi has raised an interesting question: "Are we allowed to support the Palestinian people, or not?"

Hard-liners attacked human rights protesters outside the Palestinian Embassy in Tehran on January 11.

Writing on a website that covers women's issues, Ebadi said that the people who attacked the peace gathering are probably the same as those who staged a protest in front of her office and sprayed the walls with slogans under the pretext that her group had remained silent during the Gaza conflict.

Several days before the attack, her rights center had issued a statement condemning the destruction of homes and killing of civilians in the conflict. Ebadi said: "What do these attackers want? Should we support the Palestinian people or not?"

It's a complex and sensitive issue for the Iranian government (more of that here). Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reportedly intervened last week to stop thousands of young Iranians willing to volunteer as suicide bombers from going to Gaza.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari