Israeli leaders have warned the world to be cautious regarding new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, saying the Iranian leader's words are often not supported by his actions. A new poll conducted by the British paper The Guardian suggests that most believe Israel’s fears are unfounded: over three-fourths of readers supported Rouhani as the best candidate for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.
More than 10,100 people voted in an online poll of nine international figures or groups nominated by Guardian journalists.
Seventy-six percent said Rouhani was the best candidate. The argument in Rouhani’s favor, put forth by Iran reporter Saeed Kamali Dehghan, was, “He has already brought encouraging changes, not least putting an end to the embarrassment of the Ahmadinejad years, starting a new chapter for improved relations with the west, securing the release of a number of political prisoners and increasing hopes for the release of opposition leaders under house arrest, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi. Above all, Rouhani showed his potential last week with the promising developments during in New York and broke the 34-year-long taboo of direct talks with the US.
Rouhani would not be the first to be given a Nobel peace prize after a short time in office. In 2009, the Nobel Prize Committee awarded the peace prize to United States President Barack Obama less than one year after he was sworn in as president, for "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples."
In second place, with 15% of the vote, was Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, who is renowned for her fight for girls’ education in her home country. Yousafzai was shot last year by Taliban terrorists angered by her struggle, but survived.
“A vote for her on Friday would go a long way to addressing one of the most pressing issues in fiercely patriarchal societies,” argued Guardian staff.
Guardian nominees Denis Mukwege and Alex Aan were tied for third place in the poll with 3% support each. Mukwege is a doctor who has helped thousands of women who were raped during the DRC conflict in the Congo, and in recent years, has become a political activist speaking about against the violence, despite facing threats to his life that have included a nearly-successful assassination attempt.
Aan is an Indonesian man who has been jailed for blasphemy for publicly sharing his atheist worldview on Facebook.
In fifth place was American basketball player Dennis Rodman. “Rodman's trips to North Korea have been bizarre and often a bit silly. But he's opened up a channel where none existed before. He's shown the North Koreans that someone will talk to them,” argued Guardian editor Mark Rice-Oxley.
Readers also nominated their own candidates. The top three reader nominees were Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee who leaked top-secret British and American documents to The Guardian, the environmental protection group Greenpeace, and Chelsea Manning (formerly known as Bradley Manning), a former US soldier who leaked more than 750,000 classified documents.