SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: June 06, 2016

Attack Types: Imprisonment

Institution(s):Concordia University

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Iran

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On Monday, June 6, 2016, Dr. Homa Hoodfar, a professor of social anthropology and expert on sexuality and gender in Islam at Concordia University, was arrested by Iranian authorities, reportedly on grounds of “co-operating with a foreign state against the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Professor Hoodfar, a citizen of Canada, Ireland and Iran, traveled to Iran in February to visit relatives and conduct research.  The following month, authorities raided her apartment, confiscated her computer, her passport and her cell phone, and arrested her.  She was released on bail shortly thereafter, but was informed that she was not permitted to leave Iran.  Over the subsequent two months, she was summoned repeatedly to report to authorities to be interrogated.  On Monday, June 6, Dr. Hoodfar was summoned to Evin prison — a facility known for housing intellectuals, associated with numerous reports of torture — and was arrested and taken into custody once again.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the detention and interrogation of a scholar, in apparent retaliation for non-violent exercise of the rights to academic freedom and freedom of expression – conduct which is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  State authorities have a responsibility not to interfere with the responsible exercise of such rights, and to ensure that the rights of the accused, including due process and fair trial are protected.

UPDATE: On August 27, 2016, Dr. Hoodfar’s family reported that she was hospitalized as a result of her rapidly declining health. Dr. Hoodfar has reportedly been denied access to an independent medical specialist for treatment of a rare neurological disease known as myasthenia gravis. According to her family, she is disoriented, weakened, and has extreme difficulty walking and talking. Scholars at Risk is gravely concerned about Dr. Hoodfar’s condition and calls on Iranian authorities to ensure access to proper medical treatment.

UPDATE: On September 26, 2016, Iranian authorities released Dr. Hoodfar on “humanitarian grounds.” She was transported to Oman, where she would have a medical exam, before travelling to London to meet family.