CBS News reports that Sarah Shourd has been released from an Iranian jail after bail was paid. At first, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad agreed to release her without conditions as a celebration of the end of the holy month of Ramadan. The judiciary changed his mind and set bail at $500,000. Neither the family of the hiker who had been jailed for over a year on espionage charges nor the State Department has paid the bail. That aspect of the case remains a mystery.
Shourd was reportedly having a medical issue that needed treatment. Another part of the case may have been the purported burning of the Qu’ran on the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Relations with Muslims
This case has been a sensitive issue for the United States government. While it is agreed that three hikers taken in July of 2009 were not permitted to enter Iranian territory, being held on espionage charges is probably extreme. At the time they were taken, the furor over Iran’s elections was still at the forefront. Since then, the United States has been trying to soften its image with the rest of the world.
Relations between Muslims and the United States have been shaky over the past couple of months. A controversial mosque proposal two blocks from Ground Zero has stirred debate over religious freedom in the United States and its treatment of Muslims. The argument has been whether or not the mosque is in poor taste, even though Muslims died at the World Trade Center site and even though there was an Islamic prayer room on the 17th floor of the south tower, according to the New York Times.
Terry Jones, a radical preacher in Gainesville, Florida, also strained relations with Muslims in the United States. He proposed an International Burn a Koran Day for Sept. 11, 2010, to decry the violence that Muslims have brought to the world. Luckily, the preacher backed down. Media coverage certainly didn’t help, as protests happened in Islamic countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Indonesia.
Paying for Sarah Shourd’s release would seem to be a softening of relations with a hardline regime. The United States is not a bully on the block anymore. We couldn’t send in a military force to extract the three hikers and instead bail was paid for one. The bail that was paid was excessive in that it was half a million dollars. Previous administrations would have balked at such a figure, and said we won’t negotiate with terrorists.
Now it’s a different world. Americans live in a global community where we can’t act alone when we feel the need to invade another country. Now, and for the better, the United States finds better ways to combat terrorism. Half a million dollars was indeed worth a human life. Even though the government didn’t pay the bail, many more billions of taxpayer dollars have been spent to fund two unpopular wars that have cost lives. For once, money for a ransom saved one American citizen.
CBS News, the New York Times, and CNN provided information for this article.