One of three hikers arrested and detained in Iran for more than a year is going to be released on Sept. 11, 2010, according to ABC News. Part of the reason may be the fact that Sarah Shourd, the lone female of the three hikers, has a “serious medical condition,” according to her family.
An Iranian official says that it is a celebration of the end of Ramadan, a month-long Islamic time of fasting and introspection. The anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks also coincides with the end of Ramadan. Three hikers were taken into custody in July of 2009 for wandering into Iran and then accused of being spies for the West.
Diplomacy and Outreach
The goodwill of the Iranian government comes on the heels of three important factors. First and second are the aforementioned Ramadan and September 11 anniversary. A third, and perhaps coincidentally, is that Iran may be looking to tone down a perceived anti-Muslim sentiment fostered by radical Christian Terry Jones. Jones has been threatening to burn copies of the Qu’ran on Sept. 11 in response to radical Islamists. Most of the world has decried Jones as being a radical minority and an ignorant bigot. Many world leaders fear that burning copies of the Qu’ran will lead to outrage and violence against Westerners in Islamic countries such as Indonesia and Afghanistan, according to MSNBC.
The reasons for Iran’s decision will probably never be known. The motives of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have never been clear as he has spoken of eradicating Israel, going against the wishes of the United Nations, and now releasing a prized prisoner he has held on bogus charges of espionage. Perhaps Ahmadinejad has a shred of humanity in him after the year-long struggle his country has endured with election protests, U.N. sanctions, and challenges to the leader’s power.
While I don’t look for the regime to change radically overnight, this move is a step in the right direction. Anything that softens the ties between Muslim countries and the West is surely a good thing in these tough times, when wars are still being fought in Muslim nations. Iran’s diplomacy, no matter what the reason, is a good move.
When the hikers were captured, the country was in chaos after the June 2009 election caused outrage and riots in the streets of Iran’s cities. Now that the crisis has passed, the reasons for detaining the hikers may be less of a factor. If Ahmadinejad had been upset at the leaked images of protesters being shot, then detaining three Americans is the perfect way to seek a measure of revenge without actually starting a war. The fact that the protesters were Ahmadinejad’s own fault doesn’t matter to such a despotic leader.
The month of Ramadan, like any fasting time such as Lent for Christians or Yom Kippur for Jews, has a way of mending the human heart and spirit. Whatever the motives behind the release of Sarah Shourd, one family is glad to be getting their daughter back.
ABC News and MSNBC provided information for this article.