The current relation between the U.S. and Iran is not pretty; in fact, it is like a roller-coaster ride. This is bad news for Muslims in America and abroad.
Iran is bitter over its billions of dollars in frozen assets still in U.S. banks for the last three decades, following the takeover of our embassy in Tehran. Moreover, the U.S. government maintains a hostile attitude, insistent on quashing Iran’s ambitions to build a peaceful nuclear program. There are nine other nations on this planet earth who have a nuclear program, but no one gives a hoot!
Iran also has faults of its own. Its human rights records are not flattering, especially when it comes to U.S. citizens living in Iran. That does not help reduce tensions between the two nations either.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is not sitting on the sideline as spectator, but rather wants to do something to narrow the gap between the U.S. and Iran. CAIR, which is a leading Muslim-American civil liberties group, has assembled a delegation to fly to Iran on short notice to resolve some of the outstanding issues. The group as of this writing is awaiting visas and entry permits.
Among the items the group will discuss with Iranian officials are the statuses of Roxana Saberi, Esha Momeni, and Robert Levinson.
Roxana Saberi: a journalist who was sentenced recently to eight years in jail on espionage charges. The Fargo, North Dakota native was born to an Iranian father and Japanese mother. She was elected as Miss North Dakota in 1997. Iran claimed first that she purchased a bottle of wine and then that she was working without press credentials. She just celebrated her 33rd birthday in jail.
Esha Momeni: a graduate student at California State University. Like Miss Saberi, she is also a U.S.-born citizen. Her parents are Iranians and she is a dual national. Miss Momeni was arrested in Iran in October 2008 after she allegedly passed another car illegally. She was released later, but her research materials were confiscated and she was banned from leaving Iran to continue her study.
Robert Levinson: a former FBI agent who mysteriously disappeared two years ago on the Iranian island of Kish. The CAIR delegation is carrying a letter from Mr. Levinson’s family to be delivered to Iranian officials, with the hope that the letter might crack the case. The Swiss government, which acts on behalf of U.S. interests in Iran, did not have much luck solving this case.
CAIR’s mission is an attempt to use its cultural and religious common ground with Iran in order to open a door that otherwise would remain closed.
Contrary to its critics, CAIR does care about America and wants America to be a better and a safer place not only for Muslims but for all of us.
Let’s give credit where credit is due. Here are a few examples of CAIR’s actions in the last nine years:
- CAIR took out full-page ads in the Washington Post (16 September 2001) and the New York Times (9 March 2003) to condemn the 9/11 attacks, and it urged all American Muslims to contribute money, donate blood, and help with the medical relief operation.
- CAIR came to the defense of a Jewish reporter who worked for a Kansas City newspaper and who was fired from her job one day after she married a Palestinian.
- When four members of the Christian Peacemaker Team were taken hostage in Iraq in 2005, CAIR demanded their immediate and unconditional release, stating that harming them would not advance the cause of innocent Iraqi prisoners held by U.S. forces.
- After American journalist Jill Carrol was taken hostage in Iraq in 2006, CAIR risked the life of its own members by sending a delegation to Iraq to plead for her release. Eventually she won her freedom.
CAIR, which has a solid patriotic record, should be commended for its humanitarian mission. This was also done in compliance with the Islamic teaching which calls on Muslims to “forgive those who oppressed you, give to whomever deprived you, and reach out to the one who ignored you.”
Make no mistake, when CAIR was preparing for this “mission of mercy,” the group was speaking for seven million American Muslims who want nothing more than normal and better relations between their country and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Mahmoud El-Yousseph a retired USAF veteran in Ohio. Contact: <firstname.lastname@example.org>.