Concordia University professor arrested in Iran

This week, Homa Hoodfar, my professor emeritus colleague at Concordia University (Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.) was arrested by the notorious Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and denied the protection that all members of the United Nations, who are signatories of the 1947 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including the government of Iran, have sworn to uphold.

My colleague is now languishing in the same notorious prison, where a previous Human Rights activist, Zahra “Ziba” Kazemi-Ahmadabadi was raped, tortured and killed by Iranian officials following her arrest in 2003. All people of decency and civility must raise their voices in unison to protest the actions of Iran’s male dominated religious zealots, and ask that this Canadian-Iranian scholar and dual citizen be given the basic protection she is entitled to under the United Nation’s Charter of Human Rights. Canada’s Minister of External Affairs and Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau must intervene immediately to prevent the loss of another innocent life to religious fanaticism.

Dr Homa Hoodfar, a professor of anthropology at Concordia University in Montreal, was arrested and detained in Iran on 6 June 2016. This comes after a previous arrest on 10 March 2016 by the Counter Intelligence Unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, shortly before Professor Hoodfar was to leave the country. The security forces had invaded her home and confiscated all her personal belongings, including her passports, research documents, and computer. She was subsequently released on bail, but was prohibited from traveling and had been subjected to numerous lengthy and grueling interrogations for the last three months.

Homa Hoodfar

Homa Hoodfar

On Monday 6 June she was re-arrested after yet another such interrogation. Professor Hoodfar is a renowned anthropologist and during the past four decades has been established as a major scholar of the role of women and the family in Muslim societies. She was in Iran conducting historical and ethnographic research on women’s public role. Her visit coincided with the elections in Iran, during which many new women candidates were elected to the Iranian parliament.

The Iranian authorities have not made clear whether Professor Hoodfar is being charged with espionage, sedition, or propaganda against the state. Her lawyer and family have not been allowed to see her, nor has the cause of arrest been explained to them. Furthermore, the authorities have refused to allow Professor Hoodfar’s relatives and lawyer to provide her prescription medication for a rare neurological illness (Myasthenia Gravis) from which she suffers. As a 65 year old senior citizen, Professor Hoodfar’s health is of great concern to her family, friends and colleagues, especially because she suffered a mild stroke last year. People of decency, and of all faiths around the world should raise their voices in unison to protest her inhumane treatment and to reject the unfounded accusations of sedition brought against her. They should pressure their governments to intervene in order to bring about the immediate and unconditional release of this scholar, whose dedication to justice and the advancement of equal opportunities for women should be an example for all.

András B. Göllner

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