When we first learned that former beauty queen-turned-journalist Roxana Saberi, an American of Iranian and Japanese descent, had been imprisoned in Iran–for either allegedly buying a bottle of wine or working in the country without a press permit–we thought the whole thing would blow over in a jiffy. We figured Iran would come to its senses and realize that keeping a hot lady in a horrible prison on sketchy charges makes Iran look bad, and Iran already has a bit of a PR problem as it is.
But nooooo. Iran had to go and charge Roxana with espionage last week, after her parents Reza and Akiko Saberi flew to Tehran to see her and lobby for her release. Which is bad news. But how bad is it?
For answers, we turned to our Iranian-American pal and resident Islam expert Reza Aslan, author of No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam and How to Win a Cosmic War: God, Globalization, and the End of the War on Terror, which debuts next week. Here’s what he wrote in an email:
iran is pretty sensitive to too much international embarrassment and this is a case that has gotten an abnormal amount of attention. with her father in tehran and the red cross allowing access, i can’t imagine that this will actually go to court. then again, you never know. the thing with iran is that they do these kinds of things randomly to prove a point: don’t fuck with us. it seems like at least once a year they jail a researcher or journalist for a couple of months, and then let them go. Let’s hope that happens here.
Kinda reassuring, right? Anyway, fingers crossed.
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