CAIR Prepares Delegation to Iran Seeking Journalist’s Release
U.S. Muslims will ask for ‘gesture of reconciliation’ to improve relations
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 4/23/09) - 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. CAIR’s delegation is prepared to leave for Iran as early as Friday, April 24.
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 month, CAIR called on Iran to release Saberi as a “gesture of reconciliation” to help improve relations between America and Iran.
In an April 22 letter to President Obama making him aware of the delegation’s mission, a copy of which was sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad wrote in part:
“As an American Muslim organization, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is concerned that the case of American journalist Roxana Saberi has become a roadblock to greater dialogue between the United States and Iran…We hope our efforts may help secure Ms. Saberi’s release and contribute to promoting peace through constructive dialogue between nations.”
CAIR also arranged to deliver a letter to President Ahmadinejad from the family of former FBI agent Robert Levinson, who has been missing in Iran since 2007. The delegation is additionally prepared to discuss the case of Esha Momeni, an Iranian-American graduate student currently prevented from leaving Iran.
White House and State Department officials will be offered briefings on the results of the trip.
In 2006, CAIR sent a similar delegation to Iraq to appeal for the release of American journalist Jill Carroll.
CAIR, America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. 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.