From Iranian Prisoner to Fatherhood – Welcome to the World Baby Isaiah

Yesterday, my sister Mallika and I both got the coolest email from our friend Laura Fattal.

Quick rewind: About four years ago, Laura’s son Josh and his friends Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd were taken into custody by Iranian border guards and accused of illegally crossing into Iran while hiking along the border. Over the subsequent two years, the three Americans became part of a high stakes international drama that resulted in their being charged with illegal entry and Josh and Shane convicted of espionage and sentenced to eight years of imprisonment. Sarah was released after 14 months on ‘humanitarian grounds’ while Shane and Josh’s terrifying ordeal lasted another year and finally came to an end in September of 2011 when they too were released after paying substantial fines.

Josh, Shane, and Sarah’s arrest was of course covered by the media, but as weeks stretched to months, and months eventually to years, their plight threatened to fade from public consciousness except for the efforts of Laura and an army of social media users she recruited and mobilized to keep her son and his friends’ struggle for freedom in the news. Mallika and I – and the Intent community on which we blogged – joined the effort as well and over the course of months worth of correspondence with Laura, formed a friendship and strong bond with her and her family. They inspired us with their relentless determination to use the power of information and technology to demand justice and the safe return of their loved ones. When Josh and Shane finally returned home bringing their long ordeal to a happy end, our entire family felt an emotional relief and pride for playing some tiny part in their safe redemption.

Which brings me back to yesterday and the email from Laura with the attached picture (which Laura and Josh approved our placing here) announcing the happy and healthy birth of Isaiah Azad Fattal to Josh and Jenny Fattal. Azad means “freedom” in Farsi, which to my mind is the most appropriate moniker baby Isaiah could possibly have.

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The great Indian Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Rabindranath Tagore once said that “every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man.” I’ve looked at baby Isaiah’s picture several times today and smiled because to me too, his bright eyes are a reminder of the potential we yet have to remedy the world’s ills – in Iran, in the US, and everywhere else where human rights are abused, silence, or limited. So to Josh and Jenny and the entire Fattal Family – thank you from all the Chopras and the Intent family for the gift you have given all of us in your little miracle Isaiah. We feel pride and joy in seeing his precious being and know the world will be a better place simply because of his existence.

Please share your congratulations and warm thoughts with the family in the comments below!

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About Gotham Chopra

Gotham Chopra is a multi-media voice on issues of spirituality, culture, and news. As an anchor for Channel One News -- an in-school educational news broadcast seen daily by upwards of 8 million American students -- Gotham reported from Israel, Gaza, the West Bank, Egypt, China, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Colombia, Russia, Chechnya, Mexico, Honduras, all across Europe and the United States. He has interviewed a wide range of Global leaders -- from President Bush to the Dalai Lama to associates and foot soldiers of Osama Bin Laden. He has hosted events as diverse as the Pope's pep rally in St. Louis to the action at the fifty-yard line at the Superbowl. Gotham's global assignments have sent him on patrol with anti-militant commando units in war torn Kashmir and had him detained by secret police in China, Iran, and Pakistan. Gotham is the author of Familiar Strangers (Random House 2002) -- a non-fiction and spiritual chronicle of his travels and encounters at the frontlines of areas in conflict and transition. Gotham served as Story Editor on the Bulletproof Monk -- a comic book about bullets, monks, gangs, and seekers. He also served as Executive Producer of the feature Film with John Woo's Lion Rock Films and MGM Studios, which appeared in theaters in 2003. He is also author of Child of the Dawn, a novel published in 1996 and translated in 13 languages internationally. He recorded The Mythical Lover on A Gift of Love -- a recording of sensual poetry by the 13th Century poet Rumi, and has served as researcher and lyrical advisor to Michael Jackson on the multi-platinum albums Dangerous and HIStory. He has also served as Producer on television specials for PBS. As co-founder of 5K Entertainment, Gotham wrote, is producing, and will direct the indy feature Swindle. He is also the co-creator of K Lounge -- a Kama Sutra bar and lounge in New York City with more to launch internationally in 2005. As co-founder of Chopra Media and a partner in Intent Media (with Deepak Chopra and Shekhar Kapur), Gotham is involved in a wide-array of creative media ventures. He is the President of development for Gotham Studios Asia, the largest comic book studio in India. Currently Gotham is serving as creative consultant to Current TV, a new television network co-founded by former Vice-President Al Gore, and scheduled to launch in 20 million American households in August 2005. Identified by Newsweek Magazine (March 04) as one of the "most powerful and influential" South Asians worth watching, Gotham speaks nationally on issues of youth and spirituality, conflict resolution, and develops workshops to create a language for young people to bring out the internal and external issues that important to them.