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The Simone de Beauvoir Institute Calls for Homa Hoodfar’s Immediate Release
Our colleague Professor Homa Hoodfar is a world-renowned scholar who studies the lives of women in the Middle East, South Asia, and Canada. The author of dozens of articles and book chapters, and the author of several books, her scholarship offers nuanced portraits of the complexity of women’s lives. Indeed, her work not only focuses on the struggles of women to advance their rights in the Middle East but also the rights of women in Canada, including the rights of veiled women. Prof. Hoodfar is also an outstanding mentor and supervisor, going well beyond the call of duty to ensure the success of her students. In fact, several of her graduate students are waiting to complete their degree under her guidance.
Since Prof. Hoodfar’s arrest on June 6, 2016 she has been held in Iran’s notorious Evin prison. Although we are not aware of the charges, Prof. Hoodfar has already been subject to numerous and lengthy interrogations since she was first taken in for questioning in early March. We at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute are gravely concerned about the health and welfare of our colleague. Indeed, Prof. Hoodfar is being denied access to prescription medicine for a rare neurological disease (Myasthenia Gravis), and we are very worried that her health may be deteriorating. We are also deeply concerned about the precedence this arrest sets for the rights of women in Iran and for the academic freedom of all Iranians.
Throughout her long tenure at Concordia, Prof. Hoodfar has played an extremely important role in the life of our academic community. The fact that Prof. Hoodfar may be under arrest for her scholarship on women, strikes us as in urgent need of redress. Indeed, undertaking research on issues related to women should not be treated as a criminal act, it is an integral part of the work necessary to improve conditions for women, whether in Iran or here in Canada. We thus strongly urge that the Canadian government work with every tool at its disposal to ensure Prof. Hoodfar’s immediate release from prison and her return to Canada.
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Simone de Beauvoir Institute, June 11, 2016
Emma Varley, Brandon University, speaks to Hoodfar's plight
The executive of BUFA has voted to send $1,000 to the Concordia University Faculty Association to support their efforts in seeking the release of Professor Homa Hoodfar of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Concordia University.
I asked Dr. Emma Varley of the Department of Anthropology at BU to provide us with a statement that speaks to Professor Hoodfar's plight and the importance of this issue to faculty everywhere. These are Emma's words:
"Dr. Hoodfar is well known around the world for her anthropology research and writings, which have worked to promote a better and more sensitive understanding of Islam and Muslim cultures in the West and Canada in particular. While not a political activist, her detention in Iran confirms that this has not stopped her scholarship from being interpreted in political ways, or her being targeted for political purposes.
The struggle that Dr. Hoodfar now faces and which we, as Canadian academics, hope to help bring to an end as quickly as possible, is one that is well-understood by social scientists working in politically repressive, unstable and conflicted regions of the world. Indeed, the risk of arrest and other forms of undue influence -- which are intended to silence us and our work -- are familiar to and feared by a number of Brandon University faculty, such as myself, while we conduct our research in zones defined by insecurity, surveillance and oppression.
By acting together to bring attention to Dr. Hoodfar's plight, BUFA members confirm our commitments to academic freedom as well as the professional and ethical ties which hold us together as a global community of scholars, irrespective of the nature of our research or our institutional and national affiliations. In so doing, we also reaffirm our support of those scholars who continue to conduct research in complex and volatile settings."
Doug Ramsey, June 17, 2016.