The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps forced one of the 10 captured U.S. Navy sailors, a female, to wear an Islamic hijab, according to images Iran released.
John Schindler, former NSA analyst, wrote in a Wednesday op-ed for Observer News that “Tehran naturally insisted the sole female sailor in the group be covered in hijab for the cameras, for political effect.” Schindler added that this debacle is indicative of the lengths the White House is willing to go to accommodate Iran and downplay the events.
Iranian state media featured the female sailor in several photos with a hijab in the trove of pictures it released of the incident. Other pictures show sailors on their knees with their hands on their heads.
Secretary of State John Kerry predictably did not address the hijab in his statement.
“I’m very pleased that our Sailors have been safely returned to U.S. hands,” Secretary of State John Kerry said. “I want to express my gratitude to Iranian authorities for their cooperation in swiftly resolving this matter.”
The Pentagon said that there was no indication the sailors were hurt.
In the Islamic Republic of Iran, women are not allowed in public without wearing a hijab. Women who violate this provision run the risk of either being sent to prison for a period between 10 days and two months, or paying a fine. In August 2015, the Iranian foreign minister came under fire from conservative media back in Iran for allowing a female British official to enter the embassy in London without a hijab. The British foreign office did not comment on the matter.
During an interview with Iranian state TV, one of the male sailors, when asked about his treatment while in captivity, said, “The Iranian behavior was fantastic while we were here. We thank you very much for your hospitality and your assistance.”
The sailor also apologized for accidentally intruding into Iranian waters. “It was a mistake, it was our fault, and we apologize for our mistake,” the sailor said. While the sailor did apologize, the State Department, via spokesman John Kirby, denied ever issuing an apology to Iran.
President Barack Obama did not mention the sailor incident in his State of the Union address.
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