U.S. Muslims to Ask Iranian President for Release of Hikers

U.S. Muslims to Ask Iranian President for Release of Hikers
CAIR will deliver a letter from families of three detained Americans

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 9/23/09) - Representatives of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), along with other national Muslim leaders, will meet Thursday with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to seek the release of three American hikers who were detained after apparently straying across Iran’s border.

[MEDIA NOTE: CAIR will hold a news conference after the 1 p.m. meeting if there are positive developments in the case.]

Shane Bauer, Joshua Fattal and Sarah Shourd were detained in July while hiking in northern Iraq’s Kurdistan region. The case has added to tensions between Iran and the United States.

At Thursday’s meeting, CAIR will deliver a letter to President Ahmadinejad from the families of the detained Americans. The Washington-based Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization had previously sent its own letter to Ahmadinejad requesting the release of the hikers.

In his August 24 letter, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad wrote in part: “Unfortunately, this incident has become a source of tension between our two nations at a time when greater dialogue is being encouraged based on the ‘mutual interest and mutual respect’ sought by President Obama.”

Awad said CAIR has informed the U.S. Department of State about the August letter and about Thursday’s meeting with the Iranian leader.

CAIR will also deliver a letter from the family of former FBI agent Robert Levinson, who has been missing in Iran since 2007. That letter was given to CAIR in April when representatives of the group planned to travel to Iran to seek the release of journalist Roxana Saberi.

“We hope that President Ahmadinejad will take this opportunity for a humanitarian gesture to create a more positive atmosphere for constructive dialogue between our two nations by releasing the American detainees,” said CAIR National Board Chair State Senator Larry Shaw (N.C.). “As an American organization, we must do what we can to help our nation’s citizens when they are swept up in international events.”

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

UPDATE September 25, 2009

Leaders of American Muslim groups who met with Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Thursday that they were “guardedly optimistic” that three the American hikers detained in Iran, would be released soon.    Nihad Awal, director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told reporters that the American Muslim community would remain engaged on the issue until a “favorable result” is reached, according to the Associated Press.  http://televisionwashington.com/floater_article1.aspx?lang=en&t=3&id=14338