CAIR and U.S. Muslim leaders to ask Iranian President for release of hikers

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.

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.

In Dresden, High Culture and Ugly Reality Clash

In early July thousands of mourners took to the streets in Egypt, chanting “Down with Germany.” Thousands more Arabs and Muslims joined them in protests in Berlin. In Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad added to the outcry by denouncing German “brutality.” The provocation was the murder on July 1 of Marwa al-Sherbini, a pregnant Egyptian pharmacist here. She was stabbed 18 times in a Dresden courtroom, in front of her 3-year-old son, judges and other witnesses, reportedly by the man appealing a fine for having insulted Ms. Sherbini in a park. Identified by German authorities only as a 28-year-old Russian-born German named Alex W., he had called Ms. Sherbini an Islamist, a terrorist and a slut when she asked him to make room for her son on the playground swings. Ms. Sherbini wore a head scarf. The killer also stabbed Elwi Okaz, Ms. Sherbini’s husband and a genetic research scientist, who was critically wounded as he tried to defend her. The police, arriving late on the scene, mistook him for the attacker and shot him in the leg. More than a week passed before the German government, responding to rising anger across the Arab world, expressed words of sorrow while stressing that the attack did occur during the prosecution of a racist and that the accused man was originally from Russia. Dresden is one of the great cultural capitals of Europe. It is also the capital of Saxony, a former part of East Germany that, along with having a reputation as Silicon Saxony, has made more than a few headlines in recent years for incidents of xenophobia and right-wing extremism. One wonders how to reconcile the heights of the city’s culture with the gutter of these events. MICHAEL KIMMELMAN reports.

CAIR prepares delegation to Iran seeking journalist’s release

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is preparing to send a delegation to Iran to seek the release of American journalist Roxana Saberi, who was recently sentenced by an Iranian court to eight years in prison.

In an April 17 letter to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, CAIR Board Chairman State Senator Larry Shaw (NC) and CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad requested that the Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization “be allowed to travel to Iran to discuss with you and other officials the case of Roxana Saberi and how it may be resolved in a way that helps improve relations and benefits the cause of international peace and stability.”

Earlier this April, CAIR called on Iran to release Saberi as a “gesture of reconciliation” to help improve relations between Iran and America.