SFCG Works to Bring the Hikers Home from Iran
The fate of the American hikers, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal,who have already been imprisoned for over two years, still hangs in the balance, although Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has reaffirmed his plan to release the two on humanitarian grounds. The two has been sentenced to eight years in prison on charges of espionage.
Recently, Search for Common Ground helped to arrange for a delegation of Christian and Muslim leaders to travel to Iran, hoping that religious channels could open discussion in ways that diplomacy has not. The delegation was invited by President Ahmadinejad.
While the hiker’s case was central to this visit, the long-term value of the delegation is their ability to build confidence between the two nations, as William Miller, senior adviser to Search’s US-Iran program told the Episcopal News Service.
Miller also spoke with The National Catholic Reporter, saying, “The primary purpose (of the trip) was to try and deepen the relationship between the two countries by direct human contact on the basis of religious leadership.”
SFCG has worked to keep open channels of dialogue between the US and Iran for over ten years. In the absence of official diplomatic channels, the need for understanding and respect between the people of America and Iran is even more pronounced and SFCG has worked toward this goal through the facilitated exchange of people and ideas.