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Learning ropes of Iran problem

<font color="#ff9900"><b> PHILADELPHIA. </b></font>Laura Fattal is a tragic microcosm of America when it comes to understanding Iran.

PHILADELPHIA. Laura Fattal is a tragic microcosm of America when it comes to understanding Iran.

The Elkins Park mother of Josh Fattal, one of three American hikers being held in an Iranian prison since July 31, is immersed in the Persian country out of necessity.

Iran has become an obsession for many other Americans too. From the One Book, One Philadelphia program kicking off today that features an autobiography of a young Iranian woman to the interest of Iran's mini-revolution last year, people are soaking up Iranian culture.

"It is for us in America trying to understand the Persian culture," One Book program manager Gerri Trooskin said yesterday of "Persepolis," a graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi that was made into a movie in 2007. "Not only is it about the current events, but it is also the real culture of being Persian versus Middle Eastern, which not everyone understands there is a difference."

For the Fattals — who have hired an Iranian attorney to represent Josh and two friends accused of illegally entering Iran while hiking the Iraqi border — they now understand all too well about the Islamic country.

"People in other countries, like Italy, where there have been news reports on Josh, are more familiar with the region," Laura Fattal said, adding that since her son was imprisoned "everyone is very supportive. They know about Josh and his friends."