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Nobel Foundation rescinds Iran's invitation to 2023 Prize ceremony

Iran was excluded from last year’s ceremonies following the government’s violent crackdown against protesters.
General view of the Nobel Prize Awards Ceremony at Stockholm Concert Hall on Dec. 10, 2022, in Stockholm, Sweden.

Iran was set to again be able to attend Nobel Prize events after the eponymous organization reversed on Thursday last year’s decision to bar the country in response to the ongoing Iranian protests, though it later backtracked.

The Stockholm-based Nobel Foundation said in a press release that “ambassadors from all countries that are diplomatically represented in Sweden and Norway, respectively, will be invited to the prize award ceremonies.” The organization said the decision is a response to the “increasingly polarized world” and its desire to “convey the important messages of the Nobel Prize to everyone.”

The Nobel Prize awards take place every year on Dec. 10. The Nobel Peace Prize is presented in Oslo, while the rest are awarded in Stockholm.

The Nobel Foundation’s statement did not explicitly mention Iran. However, the Islamic Republic was excluded from last year’s ceremonies.

“We believe that given the serious and escalating situation, Iran’s ambassador should not be invited to the Nobel Prize award ceremony,” said the foundation in October of last year, according to The Associated Press. Iran has embassies in both Oslo and Stockholm.

The decision also paved the way for Russia and Belarus to attend. The two countries’ diplomats were barred from attending last year due to the invasion of Ukraine, per The AP.

Iran did not immediately comment on the decision.

However, on Saturday, the Nobel Foundation said in a new statement that the decision to invite Iran, Russia and Belarus “provoked strong reactions,” specifically in Sweden. As a result, ambassadors from the three countries will not be invited to the Nobel Prize award ceremony in Stockholm. The ambassadors will, however, still be invited to the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, according to the statement.

Why it matters: Iran was barred from the Nobel Prize events following the outbreak of widespread anti-government protests and riots in the country nearly a year ago, that were met with a violent crackdown from the Iranian authorities. The protests — which began after Mahsa Amini, a young Kurdish woman, died in police custody after allegedly being beaten to death last September — are also driven by economic conditions but have not managed to cause cracks in the regime.

The protests are ongoing, as is the state’s response. Executions in Iran have also increased significantly this year in response to the demonstrations.

Iran continues to face international isolation, is subjected to Western sanctions, some introduced in response to the crackdown against protesters.

Know more: Tension brewed between Iran and Sweden recently over Stockholm's decision to allow the Quran burnings  Along with other Middle Eastern countries, Iran condemned the burnings and desecrations of the Quran carried out by Iraqi refugee Salwan Momika in Sweden in June and July.

The Swedish government said last month that it would review impacts on national security before future decisions.

Update: Sept. 6, 2023. This article was edited to include an additional statement from the Nobel Foundation.

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