Homa Hoodfar returns to Concordia

Retired professor comes back to personally share her story with students

Retired Concordia anthropology professor Homa Hoodfar will be returning to Concordia University on Feb. 20 to speak about her experience in Evin prison in Iran. This will be the first time since returning to Montreal that Hoodfar will be opening up to students about the 112 days she spent incarcerated.

Julia Sutera Sardo, ASFA’s vice-president of internal affairs and administration, told The Concordian about the event the student association is organizing. “She’s a survivor, and having her come to meet the students is something great,” Sutera Sardo said about Hoodfar.. “She is an amazing woman, and she has experienced so much. The fact that she has accepted to come and talk about it with other students makes me very excited.”

In addition to her experience in Evin prison, Hoodfar will be talking about how women are viewed in Middle Eastern countries. Hoodfar will also give advices on conducting field work in hostile countries, and discuss the representation of women in these countries, a topic she has been researching and teaching for many years.

“She’s determined to make everyone else feel empowered,” said Sutera Sardo. “Homa Hoodfar will help the community grow and get closer and stronger.”

Hoodfar was arrested during a trip to Iran, her home country, during their elections in early 2016. In an interview with The Concordian in mid-November, she said that Iranian women were questioning why so few of them were in Parliament, and many of them were forming organizations to change the face of Parliament. “The guards want to believe that these ideas are coming from outside of Iran,” she said in the interview, which was the main reason they arrested her, thinking she was an ally of these groups of women.

During the upcoming conference, Hoodfar will discuss her story by answering a series of questions from a facilitator. A question period will them be opened up to the audience. “She told me she was very excited about this. She is coming back to her roots,” said Sutera Sardo.

During her previous interview with The Concordian, Hoodfar said she wanted to thank the students for their support. “I was very touched to see the videos and pictures from the demonstrations, which was a very nice surprise for me,” she said. To this day, according to Sutera Sardo, Hoodfar is very thankful to the Concordia community.

The event will be held in the Hall building, in room H-767, on Feb. 20 at 11:30 a.m. The event is open to all students interested in meeting and asking Hoodfar questions, and hearing her story. Seats are first-come, first served.


Homa Hoodfar shares her story

Retired Concordia professor who was incarcerated for 112 days talks feminism, Evin Prison and Concordia’s support

Homa Hoodfar, a retired Concordia University professor and researcher, sat down with The Concordian  to discuss her 112-day experience in Evin prison in Iran. The Iranian-Canadian anthropology professor was arrested while on a personal and research visit to Iran. The 65-year-old suffers from a rare neurological disease that causes severe muscle weakness. She spent some time hospitalized before being brought back to her cell where she could barely walk or talk.  Hoodfar has been back in Montreal since Sept. 26.

The Concordian: In an interview with CBC, you said the guards arrested you because they thought you were trying to meddle in an Iranian parliamentary election and bring your feminism work and research into politics. Can you expand on that?

Homa Hoodfar: In Iran, there’s less than three per cent women in the Parliament. When I was there, which was during this election, women in Iran were questioning why there were so few of them in the parliament. In an interview I held on an earlier trip there, I said that the question is not that there are too few women but too many men in the parliament. During this trip to Iran, there were women who were organizing to change the face of the parliament and make it more female-oriented. Somehow the guards said I had something to do with that campaign. I knew of the campaign, but I didn’t know a single one of these women. Yet, for the government, feminism is a form of soft revolution which tends to change the Islamic culture. My argument to them was that any culture that doesn’t change is a dead culture. Our culture has changed and women are trying to voice their opinions like any oppressed group, but the guards want to believe that these ideas are coming from outside of Iran. For them, I’m a self-declared feminist and it was enough for them to arrest me.

TC: Can you speak about the research you’ve done related to Middle Eastern countries?

Hoodfar: My academic work has implications into the contemporary situation in the Middle East. I don’t only work on Iran’s situation. I’ve also been working on [research in] Egypt, Pakistan and even Indonesia. Although, the guards weren’t interested in my work elsewhere, they were just interested in my work in Iran. I had been working on family laws, women reproductive rights and refugees. Also, in 2011, with one of my PhD students, we did write a book on the debate of women in the parliament. Yet, this book doesn’t even mention Iran and somehow they believed that I changed my field of research to interfere with the current elections.

TC: What came to your mind when they came to arrest you?

Hoodfar: They actually came to raid my apartment on the night before I was supposed to leave for Canada. They took my computer, my telephone, my iPad and a lot of books and folders with all my research. There were six big bags of everything that they took. They asked me to go to an interrogation the next day and to go to court within the next five days. At the time, there were no charges or files. Although, as a social scientist, we always say that social science is considered to be a criminal activity, because a lot of people who do research are called in by the police to investigate the research. If the government doesn’t like the results, the researcher usually will go to jail for five or six years. So I was not surprised when this happened to me but I wasn’t expecting to be put in jail. Usually they ban you from travelling and call you in for interrogations a few times.

Different student protests happened to pressure the release of Hoodfar. Photo Alex Hutchins

TC: What do you remember from the Evin prison?

Hoodfar: I was in a very tiny cell which was about two meters by a metre and a half. There was nothing except a carpet and three military blankets they give you. One you sleep on, one you use as a pillow and the other one to cover you. I was on my own for a few days, but then they moved me to a room with three other women because of a prison inspection and so I suppose they didn’t want me to be in a solitary cell. After that, they brought me back with another woman to stay in the tiny cell. There were no windows in this room, and lights were on all day and night. With the light, I was not able to sleep so they gave me sleeping pills. I would also receive my medication from my family, which was very important because my health wasn’t very good. I would also demand that they give me newspapers or something to read because there was nothing to do besides going to the interrogations. Until they brought the young woman to stay with me, there was also no one to talk to. Most of them were sex workers who were only 21 or 22 years old. I ended up chatting with them and collecting their life history. Then, I started to write on my wall with my toothbrush, treating it like field research, which made the time there easier. Whenever I would go to the interrogations, I would take mental notes and when I couldn’t sleep at night, I would write on the wall. Young women thoughtI was crazy but just the action of writing helped my mind stay active. I collected the data and hopefully, when the time is right, I will start writing them down. I had at least 45 sessions of interrogations, some of which would last all day. I also would hear when the guards were interrogating other people. They used different methods for the sex workers than they used for me.

TC: Was there a method of interrogation they used which was difficult for you?

Hoodfar: I knew of their methods. They kept on telling me that I was nothing, but I knew it wasn’t true. I also accepted the fact I would stay in the prison for a long time and, because I did, there was nothing that they could do to really bring me down. What angered me the most was when they played the song used at my spouse’s funeral, which they found on my iPad. In contrast, young women were very frightened and cried a lot because they thought when the guards saw them crying, they might be more lenient towards them. Of course, for me, the interrogators were younger than me, which in the Iranian culture, it gave me an upper hand. Initially, they were playing on the fact that I was the old woman, but I took their method and reversed it and used it against them. I was thinking to myself that I lived for 65 years the way that I wanted and reached my goals. Therefore, I told them it didn’t matter if I had to stay in the Evin prison for the rest of my life. I had no regrets at all. I also told them that if the rest of my life has to be there, so be it. With all that being said to them, they didn’t have anything to frighten me with. This is when they played the music and I asked them to stop it. Which they didn’t want to until I asked them if this was part of the Islamic human rights, because yes, our culture has different human rights. They did everything to make me cry and the fact that they couldn’t break me was a victory.

TC: How long were you in contact with your family?

Hoodfar: Before I was taken to Evin, I would go to interrogations but then would go home and I was able to chat, Skype, or go on Facebook. The problem was that they were listening to the conversations I had on my phone, but at least I was in touch with my family. I was also very overwhelmed with the support that came with my release. The support came from a lot of scholars from the left or right wing, from Islamic scholars and also from people from very diverse backgrounds. I received letters of support from Indonesia, Hong Kong, Bangladesh, Turkey and many more countries. It was also very heartwarming to see all the support coming from Canada. Iran wanted me to stop my research but now more people know about my research than if they didn’t arrested me.

TC: What was the process for them to release you?

Hoodfar: The day I was released was actually a very interesting one. Two nights before the release, they took me where the interrogation took place and taped me for about five to six hours. They wanted me to say that I regret what I’ve done, to which I told them that I haven’t done anything illegal and therefore I don’t regret anything. Then they told me there were three conditions on which they could release me on diplomatic ground. I had to say that I regret what I’ve done, that I won’t be doing networking in Iran and that I won’t do any research on women in politics anymore. I told them I don’t regret and, if I’m released, I will continue to do the same thing because I’m a researcher. I have never done networking in Iran anyway and doing research on women or women in politics is part of my work. I was very touched when I learned about the student campaign and the demonstration happening. I only got to see the pictures when I got back to Montreal.

Hoodfar reunites with her niece after her time in Evin prison. Photo by Alex Hutchins

TC: After a terrifying and tireful experience, how are you feeling?

Hoodfar: Physically, my lungs are still not very well and I still get tired when I talk for a long time. I am hoping that, in a month or two, I get my energy back and start working more. Mentally, I still get upset about how the academic freedom is curtailed in Iran and how people can’t express themselves. Overall, I think I’m good. It was great to know that so many people went out of their way to support me and secure my release—especially the Canadian government, my colleagues, the academic scholars and my students from many years ago. I try to focus on the positive things rather than thinking negatively. I hope the situation in Iran changes. There is a lot to be done, and I hope social science gets more space to be discussed.

I especially want to thank the students. I don’t know everybody, but I appreciate what everyone did. I was very touched to see the videos and pictures from the demonstrations, which was a very nice surprise for me. Sometimes, when I get a little sad, I go on my computer and watch the Free Homa pictures and signs. Students at Concordia did a lot, and I’m very thankful for them.

Check out our interview with Homa Hoodfar below.


A liberated Hoodfar arrives at Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport

Hoodfar said her arrest is not stopping her from continuing her research

After spending 112 days in Iran’s Evin prison, Concordia University professor Homa Hoodfar arrived at Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport on Sept. 29 armed with a big smile.

“I’ve had a bitter several months, and the detention has really left me weak and tired,” said Hoodfar in a press conference held at the airport upon her arrival.

She said the most difficult part of her incarceration was not being able to communicate with a lawyer or her family. “That was the hardest thing,” said Hoodfar. “Not knowing what is happening, and knowing that my family are very worried [about] not being able to talk to me.”

A smiling Hoodfar addresses the press at Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport beside her niece. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

Hoodfar said she was reluctant to believe she had actually been released. “I didn’t feel that I would be released until I was in the jet,” said Hoodfar. “Because in Iran, nothing is complete until it’s complete.” She said she was not sure if plans would change at the last moment. “They hadn’t told me what the plans were,” Hoodfar said. “When I was in the jet, I knew I was free.”

Hoodfar said this experience will not stop her from conducting research. “Not only has it not stopped me from that, it has opened new avenues that maybe I would not have pursued in the same way before,” said Hoodfar.

Photo by Alex Hutchins.

Hoodfar said she does not plan on returning to Iran any time soon. “I think for a while I’m going to stay in Montreal,” she said.

“It is just wonderful to feel you are in a place [where] you feel secure and you can see friends,” she said.

Hoodfar being greeted by the press in Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport. Photo by Nelly Serandour-Amar.

Hoodfar said in the coming days, she looks forward to spending time with family and friends, as well as enjoying the tail end of summer.


Iran’s dark history of imprisoning foreigners

Dr. Homa Hoodfar is not the first to be detained by the Revolutionary Guard

This article was originally written as a protest for the immediate release of Dr. Homa Hoodfar—an Iranian-Canadian professor of anthropology at Concordia—from Evin prison in Iran. However, as of Monday, Sept. 26, 2016, I am pleased to say that she has been released. Still, Professor Hoodfar’s ordeal can provide us with an opportunity to discuss Iran’s alarming trend of human rights abuses and socio-political oppression.

While visiting family and conducting research in Tehran, Dr. Hoodfar was detained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Since June 6, 2016, Hoodfar had been held captive in Evin prison, just outside of Tehran. She had been charged with collaborating with a hostile government against national security, and with propaganda against the state.

As CBC News reports, Hoodfar’s family believed these charges to be trumped up. Which certainly was a reasonable assertion to make, given that Iranian state media accused Hoodfar of “dabbling in feminism.”

Alex Neve, the secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, states that these charges are a symptom of a weak and paranoid state. Neve believes Hoodfar was a prisoner of conscience—imprisoned for her beliefs—since Iranian authorities accused Hoodfar’s research of “disrupting public order” and “prompting social-cultural changes that can ultimately pave the ground … for a soft overthrow.”

I am inclined to agree with such claims, as Iran has a significant legacy of incarcerating people for perceived obscenities or political dissidence. Evin prison—which is nicknamed “Evin University,” due to the number of intellectuals held there—has a dark history of brutal treatment of prisoners. Another alumnus of Concordia and dual Canadian-Iranian citizen, Maziar Bahari, is likely one of the more recognizable victims of Iranian legal transgressions.

His 118-day imprisonment is recounted in the 2009 book Then They Came For Me, and in a film produced by Jon Stewart called Rosewater. Bahari was detained for reporting on the 2009 protests surrounding the Iranian presidential election. Like Hoodfar, Bahari too was accused of disrupting public order and working with foreign powers against the state.

Another prisoner of Evin is Soheil Babadi, who was charged with insulting the Prophet Mohammed, the Ayatollah, and subverting the state, and arrested in May 2012. According to, Babadi was detained for posting satirical jokes on a Facebook page. While imprisoned, he was denied medical care for his kidney disease, which some agencies (such as Amnesty International) believe to be a tactic used by the Iranian state to coerce confessions from their detainees.

However, the detention of Zahra Kazemi, another Canadian-Iranian citizen, is a particularly important case in relation to Hoodfar’s imprisonment. Kazemi was photographing the protests of the 2003 election, and was detained after filming the families of arrested protesters outside of the infamous Evin prison. She was charged with espionage and smeared by state media as a spy. During her detention, Kazemi was tortured, raped and beaten, which led to her subsequent death on July 11, 2003.

All these prisoners of conscience point to a legacy of brutality that made Hoodfar’s plight all the more alarming and urgent. Just like Bahari, Hoodfar felt the sting of her intellectual endeavours. Similar to Babadi, Hoodfar has medical concerns — suffering from a neurological condition called myasthenia gravis, which causes severe muscle weakness.

Dr. Hoodfar arriving in Oman. Photo courtesy of Oman News Twitter.

More alarming still, is the risk to women under Iranian custody. As the brutal treatment of Zahra Kazemi proves, the risk to Professor Hoodfar was extremely realistic and present. In a male-dominated prison system, her health was at risk due to the taboo surrounding men examining women. There was also the realistic risk of sexual aggression as a form of coercion and terror. Amnesty International writes that Hoodfar’s arrest coincides with a trend of increased targeting of women associated with feminist movements, or groups advocating increased female representation in the government. This placed Hoodfar’s research directly under the gaze of Iranian intelligence.

More than 100 days had passed before Dr. Hoodfar’s release could be secured. How could this matter have been allowed to escalate for so long? This goes back to Stephen Harper’s government, which, in 2012, placed Iran on the list of state sponsors of terror, which subsequently severed diplomatic ties. I believe this action was a mistake, and needlessly put the lives of Canadian nationals abroad at risk in a misguided attempt to be “tough on terror.”

Former Canadian diplomat to Iran, Ken Taylor, tells CBC news it is important to have a presence on the ground. “If a country’s government won’t interact,” Taylor writes, “there’s still intelligence to gather.” I could not agree more. A diplomatic presence on the ground could allow us to know more about our nationals abroad in general, and Dr. Hoodfar in particular. If the purpose of diplomacy is to ensure the security of interests abroad, how can that be done with no dialogue?

A supporter at the demonstration for Dr. Hoodfar in Montreal, on September 21. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

The ordeal of Dr. Hoodfar and her family can serve as a cautionary tale against rash decisions in power politics. In a statement by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau credits Hoodfar’s release was wholly reliant on the Swiss, Italian, and Omani diplomats in Iran. In the face of diplomatic impotence, her release also signals the importance of grassroots activism. Kimberley Manning, principal of Concordia University’s Simone de Beauvoir Institute says that more than 5,000 academics signed a petition calling for Dr. Hoodfar’s release, including notable intellectuals like Noam Chomsky. While on September 14, 2016, Concordia students led a protest at Norman Bethune Square. Moreover, in a statement from Amnesty International Canada, more than 50,000 canadians signed a petition for Dr. Hoodfar’s release.

We must not forget the power we have as a collective. Injustice can be met with solidarity.


Homa Hoodfar free after 112-day imprisonment

Colleagues: “We’re still in a state of shock” about release from Iranian prison

After 16 weeks of imprisonment in Iran, Concordia professor Homa Hoodfar landed in Oman on Monday a free woman. Hoodfar spent 112 days in a Tehran jail. While the charges laid against Hoodfar and the reason for her release are yet unknown, family and friends, including her colleague from Concordia’s School of Public Affairs, Marguerite Mendell, are just happy for her freedom.

“We’re still in a state of shock,” said Mendell at a press conference on Monday.

“We didn’t expect this news at all,” added Marc Lafrance, a Concordia assistant professor from the sociology and anthropology department. “I can’t find the words to describe my joy.”

Photos of the Canadian-Iranian professor have been shared on social media and while Mendell said Hoodfar seems frail and thin, seeing her able to walk on her own is a positive sign. Hoodfar, who is 65 years old, has a degenerative neurological disorder. She was reportedly not receiving the proper medication during her imprisonment.

Mendell said Hoodfar was asked to write about and explain her research after her first arrest and leading up to her incarceration. Her academic work has focused on gender and sexuality in Islam. However, Mendell said Hoodfar’s trip to Iran was for personal reasons and to conduct some archival work.

“She’s an ethnographer, and an anthropologist … her work is not political,” said Mendell.

Hoodfar’s colleagues also said she underwent interrogations that lasted eight or nine hours at a time and she reportedly spent time in solitary confinement—with no access to a lawyer.

Kimberly Manning, principal at Concordia’s Simone de Beauvoir Institute, expressed her joy of Hoodfar’s release by taking off her “#FreeHoma” pin for good.

“I’m very happy to say I get to take it off today,” she said during the press conference. “The fact that Homa has been a real champion for understanding the lives of women is not without note on this moment. This is something that so many people from so many diverse walks of life rallied to recognize and to call for her freedom on that basis.”

Those rallying for Hoodfar included help from the embassies of Oman, Italy and Switzerland. Canada ended diplomatic relations with Iran in 2012. In a statement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau thanked those diplomats, adding they were “instrumental in helping secure Dr. Hoodfar’s release.”

At a Board of Governors meeting on Monday, Concordia University President Alan Shepard said he is super thrilled that Hoodfar is on her way home. “We did our best both behind the scenes and in front of the cameras and once she’s had the chance to settle back and get some rest … I’ll be very interested to get any lessons she has [for] us in case we ever find ourselves in this situation again or other institutions find themselves in this situation,” he said.

Concordia students and faculty gathered in solidarity with Homa Hoodfar. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

Protests for Hoodfar’s release happened both in Canada and abroad: in Montreal, more than 100 people gathered on Sept. 21 to bring attention to her imprisonment; in Dublin, Concordia Irish Studies professor Emer O’Toole helped organize a protest outside the Iranian embassy on Sept. 7.

“I’m not sure if I’ve ever felt so much relief in my life,” said Hayley Lewis, Concordia’s demonstration organizer, and former student of Hoodfar. “I am so, so happy that Homa is coming home to us.”

“I think that her release is excellent news. In terms of what contributed to it—I don’t really have any inside information—but I think that definitely the fact that there’s a wide range in show of support from Canadians across the country and particularly the Concordia community, it definitely contributed positively to what happened,” said Alex Tyrrell, leader of the Green Party of Quebec and a speaker at Concordia’s demonstration for Homa.

However, Lewis said there is still a lot of work to be done on behalf of those who are still imprisoned and equally deserve freedom. “That being said, I’m overjoyed by Homa’s release and so grateful that we can all continue to benefit from her presence in our lives and communities,” she said.

While it’s unclear when Hoodfar will return to Canada, or where she will be medically examined, her niece, Amanda Ghahremani, flew to Oman to meet her.

With files from Savanna Craig and Cristina Sanza


Concordia in solidarity for the release of Homa Hoodfar

Announcers demand Hoodfar’s release after 107 days of imprisonment

Concordia students, faculty and community members gathered across the street from Bethune Square to raise awareness of the incarceration of former Concordia professor, Homa Hoodfar, who has been jailed in Evin prison in Iran for 107 days.

Hayley Lewis, the event organizer, said not only is it unclear what Hoodfar is being charged with, but it is also unclear as to what condition she is currently in. “All that we know is she’s a 65-year-old woman who we love, who has been in prison for 107 days and who is in extremely bad health,” Lewis said.

“Please keep talking about Homa Hoodfar,” Lewis announced to a group of over 100 protesters. “Post about her, write about her—do not let her disappear.” Lewis emphasized the importance of pressing the Canadian and Irish governments to see to Hoodfar’s safe and definite release.

Lewis said Hoodfar suffers from a degenerative neurological disorder that requires medication, but she has not been getting said medication while imprisoned. “She is sick, she is unwell and we need her back,” said Lewis.

Lewis invited guests from the Concordia community to speak—Concordia faculty members, personal friends of Hoodfar and Green Party Leader and Concordia student Alex Tyrrell spoke at the demonstration. They all stood in solidarity for the immediate release of Hoodfar. Lewis also invited the Bread and Puppet theatre, a Vermont-based group, who presented a theatrical political performance to spectators in support of Hoodfar’s safe return home.

Photo by Alex Hutchins.

“We have a moral responsibility to get her home,” said Kimberley Manning, principal of the Simone de Beauvoir Institute and a member of the recently-organized Homa Hoodfar working group. She said that since Hoodfar’s arrest, the Concordia union faculty association, the Concordia administration and two of Hoodfar’s closest friends have been supporting efforts to free her. However, Manning said they still need lots of help.

“Homa taught here for 30 years, nurturing several decades of students and contributing [in] countless ways to the wellbeing of this institution,” said Manning. “Now it’s our turn to help her.”

Photo by Alex Hutchins.

Manning said action is being taken in Dublin as well, as Concordia professor Emer O’Toole from the department of Irish studies helped mobilize the protest for Hoodfar in front of the Iranian embassy, which took place in Dublin on Sept. 7. “[O’Toole] has been working tirelessly to place pressure on the Irish government to do all they can do to get Homa free,” said Manning.

“Members of the Concordia community and the public should not underestimate the gravity of what’s taking place here,” said Tyrrell. “Her life is on the line.” He added that she has been held in solitary confinement without access to a lawyer.

Tyrrell said Hoodfar’s research aimed to help develop an understanding of Muslim women, one of the most discriminated against groups locally and globally. Tyrrell said the community has an obligation to stand up for imprisoned peers and to defend academic freedom around the world.

Photo by Alex Hutchins.

Margie Mendell, Professor and Graduate Program Director for School of Community and Public Affairs and a friend of Hoodfar said we must get Hoodfar home and out of Evin prison. “We will not gather again to say that she has been in Evin prison for 200 days,” Mendell said to the crowd. “We will gather together to welcome her home and to celebrate her freedom.”

Fay Devlin, one of Hoodfar’s former students, said “I do not think this is going to do anything,” emphasizing that the community needs to do more for this cause. She suggested students should use social media and share photos to help spread awareness. “Sign the petition,” she said.

Former student of Hoodfar, Fay Devlin, stands in solidarity for her release. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

“I think public demonstrations of this type are very necessary, but they’re not sufficient by any means,” said Peter Stoett, the director of Loyola Sustainability Research Centre and political science professor at Concordia University. He said Hoodfar’s release depends more on the negotiation between the governments involved—namely, the Canadian, Irish and Iranian governments.

Photo by Alex Hutchins.

“We can’t fool ourselves into thinking it’s going to change the government of Iran—their perspective is pretty hardened on this, and that’s going to take some serious diplomatic maneuvering,” said Stoett. Lewis, however, encourages people to get involved and write letters to the government.

“The final purpose of this [demonstration] is just to celebrate Homa’s work, and remember what an outstanding woman she is and the brutality of the situation she’s in right now,” Lewis said.  She said that the more people who are informed the better. “There are a lot of political prisoners all over the world—we want to stand in solidarity with them, as well.”

With files from Cristina Sanza


Concordia pleads for the safe return of Professor Homa Hoodfar

Former Professor Hoodfar remains detained in Iranian prison

Concordia Academics held a press conference on Sept. 7 in the EV building on the Sir George Williams campus, Concordia calling for the immediate release of Dr. Homa Hoodfar, a retired Concordia anthropology and sociology professor emerita.

“On June 6, our department changed forever,” said Marc Lafrance, a sociology and anthropology professor. “On this day, one of our most admired and beloved professors was arrested and held in Iran’s infamous Evin Prison in Tehran.”

Hoodfar, 65, was arrested three months ago and charged with collaborating with a hostile government against national security—charges her family denies.

Recent news of Hoodfar’s deteriorating health pushed the Concordia community to issue an official press release asking for help from the Irish and Iranian governments for her safe return.

“A week ago, Homa Hoodfar fell gravely ill and was hospitalized,” said Kimberly Manning, principal of Concordia’s Simone De Beauvoir Institute . She said Hoodfar suffers from a rare neurological disease that requires medical attention.

Manning pleaded that Hoodfar’s case is an emergency and that at the moment, “we don’t know if she is alive.” Lafrance raised the question about whether or not she is receiving her medication or basic needs, such as food and water.

Hoodfar, who holds Irish as well as Canadian and Iranian citizenship, has received a great deal of support from Irish scholars since her arrest, said Emer O’Toole, a Canadian Irish studies professor, at the press release.

Photo by Chloe Ranaldi.

“Over the course of the summer [more than] 5000 academics signed a petition which called for Hoodfar’s immediate release, including notable public intellectuals like Noam Chomsky and Orhan Pamuk,” said Manning.

On Wednesday morning, Irish academics gathered outside of the Iranian Embassy in Dublin to show their support for Hoodfar.

 Hoodfar is recognized for her studies on development, culture and gender in the Middle East.

“We encourage all Concordia students to sign the petition that calls for Homa’s safe return home,” Lafrance told The Concordian. “Students are invited to share her message on social media.”

To sign the petition or to learn more about Professor Homa Hoodfar, visit:

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