Muhammad Ali: Hikers Should be Released by Iran

Muhammad Ali is asking for two hikers to be released. The two American hikers were hiking near the Iran-Iraq border when they were taken into custody by Iranian authorities in July of 2009. Initially, there were three hikers arrested on espionage charges: Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal. Sarah Shourd was fortunate enough to have been released last year on $500,000 bail. She now refuses to return to Iran for trial.

Who can blame Sarah for refusing to return? Would you return? The charges Iran has given are ridiculous and chances are if she returns, she won’t be released ever again.

Shourd states, “Their detention has everything to do with animosity between Iran and the United States, and nothing to do with anything they have done.”

Naturally, Iran will have to explain away why they have the men in custody and claiming espionage is the easiest reason. However, what kind of information could it be that the U.S. wants from Iran? Wasn’t it the U.S. that basically taught Iran everything they know anyway?

The hikers were suppose to have their trial resume on May 11, however, that didn’t occur. Iranian authorities didn’t contact their families or their lawyer about why the trial didn’t take place and they didn’t even bother bringing the men to court either. It’s evident that whatever the reason Iran has for keeping these men isn’t going to be explained away.

After nearly two years of imprisonment, Shane and Josh were allowed to call their parents for the third time on May 23. The men informed their parents that authorities had refused to allow them to receive letters thus prompting a 17-day hunger strike.

Bauer and Fattal’s parents enlisted Muhammad Ali’s help and the help of several other prominent U.S. Muslims in hopes that their children would be released.

Muhammad Ali and the other U.S. Muslims held a press conference on May 24 asking for Iran to release the two hikers. Although Ali didn’t speak during the conference, his wife, Lonnie, spoke for him. She stated that Bauer and Fattal had “wanted to experience the world, they wanted to experience other cultures, they wanted to experience other people.”

Chances are Muhammad Ali and all the prominent U.S. Muslims can get together and hold press conferences until they are blue in the face, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal still won’t be coming home anytime soon. A spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry stated that it was a “joke” to call the men hikers and that they were actually spies.

Were they? Probably not but don’t expect Iran to care about the specifics. They now have Americans that they can imprison for as long as they want. It’s not like Obama is going to send a rescue crew or a rocket over there. And, Iran’s not going to care about what Muhammad Ali has to say either. These hikers were definitely hiking at the wrong place at the wrong time.

© Evalynn J. Saeyang – Gather Inc. 2011

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