Profile: Tawakkul Karman first Arab woman to win Nobel Peace Prize


Yemeni Tawakkul Karman, one of the three women awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on October 7, 2011, speaks on the phone as she leaves her protest tent encampment in Sanaa, following the announcement that she was a laureate.


Gamal Noman

Tawakul Karman, 32, is one of three women's rights activists awarded the Nobel Peace Prize Friday. She is the first Arab woman to receive the prize.

The mother of three -- who told the BBC that she didn't even know she was nominated for the prize, and found out through their news service -- was honored for her activism work in Yemen during the Arab Spring, the BBC reports.

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Karman organized regular sit-ins and protests in Sana'a's Freedom Square, in hopes of ending the 33-year rule of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, according to The Telegraph. She and other activists with Women Journalists Without Chains, an organization she founded in 2005, also demonstrated for the advancement of women's rights and the protection of freedom of expression, reports Al-Jazeera English

Karman, who has been jailed many times for her efforts by the leaders in Yemen, dedicated the prize to the youth in the Arab Spring.

"I give the prize to the youth of revolution in Yemen and the Yemeni people," she allegedly said, reports Time Magazine.

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Karman is a member of Yemen's leading opposition party, the Islah, a conservative religious movement that calls for reform in accordance with Islamic principles. She herself takes a more progressive approach to Islam and the Shari'a, wearing a headscarf instead of a full face veil, reports BBC. During the Arab Spring, she and thousands of other women broke the country's 7 p.m. curfew to spend the night in Freedom Square.

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Thorbjoern Jagland of the Norwegian Nobel Committee told the AP that the prize is "a signal that the Arab Spring cannot be successful without including the women in it."

Karman said she was unaware of her nomination because she is so deep in the revolution in Yemen, working vigilantly to make gains in the country.

"We will build our country with peace. ... All the youth and women, this is a victory for our demand for citizenship and human rights," she allegedly told Al-Jazeera English.

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