Until recently and for the most part, the theocratic regime of the unelected clergy in Iran has mainly been satisfied with brutalizing its own people, either domestic or foreign based. Zahra Kazemi murdered by the regime a few years ago, and Haleh Esfandiari the Director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. quickly come to mind although there are countless others who have been jailed, murdered or otherwise mistreated by the regime. Esfandiari had to put up her 90 year old mother’s house as “bail” before she was allowed to leave Iran.
More recently, of course, the case of the 3 American hikers who’ve been jailed in Iran for over 13 months has been the topic of various discussions as they have been accused of spying for the US and hence, a threat to the regime. It isn’t important that spies do not go hiking in dangerous border regions where they could easily be picked up by the border guards, nor is it worth dwelling on the fact that there are far more effective means of spying without resorting to such primitive tactics. What is puzzling and disturbing is that asking money for the release of a person held unjustly seems to have been established as an institutionalized practice by the regime. The $500K paid by an “unknown foreigner” as “bail” money to free Sarah Shourd, the single female in the trio of accused “spies” is the newest in this extortion scheme. Apparently, it is also irrelevant that even the Islamic judiciary - a bunch of uneducated mullahs - has claimed there are no evidence against these three hikers to incriminate them as spies.
Since no one challenges this practice or even calls it what it is: ransom or extortion, it seems to be gaining momentum and very likely to be utilized more widely as the regime feels that its hay days might be coming to an end in the near future. Again, since no one really cares much about the fate of Iranians (be it Iranian-American, Iranian-Canadian, or Iranian Mozambican), the kidnapping, or as they call it “arrest”, of foreign nationals may be proliferating in the months to come. Who knows, this could be a source of income for the lower level thugs in the government who will also have to flee the scene once justice and order prevails in our battered motherland.
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