California Scholars for Academic Freedom

Letter concerning Dr. Homa Hoodfar



June 14, 2016

To:  Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran
c/o H.E. Mr. Gholamali Khoshroo
Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations
622 Third Avenue, 34th Floor
New York, NY 10017, USA
fax: +1 (212) 867-7086

To: His Excellency Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani

Head of Judiciary, Ministry of Justice, Head of Judiciary

Park-e Shahr, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Fax: +98 21 879 6671 / +98 21 3 311 6567


To:  The Honorable Dr. Hassan Rouhani

President of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Pasteur Street, Pasteur Square

Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

c/o His Excellency Gholam Ali Khoshroo, the Iranian Amabassador to the UN

Your Excellency,

We are writing to express our grave concern about the arrest and imprisonment of Dr. Homa Hoodfar.  We have been informed that she was arrested on June 6, 2016 and detained in Evin prison in Tehran.  We are writing as the leading academic freedom organization of California institutes of higher education.  We are California Scholars for Academic Freedom,** an organization of over 200 academics from over twenty universities and colleges in California.  We respond not only to academic freedom violations here in California, but also around the world.

As you no doubt know, Dr. Homa Hoodfar is a highly respected university professor and anthropologist at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, where she has lived for thirty years. She is an internationally renowned and widely published scholar who studies a range of issues related to the role of women in Middle Eastern societies and their struggles.

We have been informed that Professor Hoodfar travelled to Iran in February this year to see her family. Shortly before she was to return home in March, she was arrested but released on bail. After being interrogated a number of times, Professor Hoodfar was once again summoned for interrogation on Monday, June 6 and then imprisoned without due process.

It is difficult to find any reason for Dr. Hoodfar’s arrest because she has never been involved in politics of any sort. She is an anthropologist who conducts ethnographic research across the Middle East. Furthermore, her research is known to be balanced, and several of her studies highlight the opportunities and high status that women have achieved in various Muslim countries, including Iran. This is the case, for example, for her recent work that discusses women volunteer health workers in Iran’s health system, as stated in the report Health Workers and Health Knowledge as Avenues of Empowerment.


Professor Hoodfar was among the pioneer scholars to highlight Muslim women’s public roles. Her writings have greatly contributed to challenging the stereotypic portrayals of Muslim women that were until recently prominent in Western scholarship.

We are deeply concerned about Dr. Hoodfar’s health.  She has a serious neurological condition that urgently needs attention.  She suffered a stroke last year.  She is badly in need of the medical attention that only her doctors in Canada can give her.  They have her medical records and are familiar with her medical history.

Furthermore, we have learned that she is not being allowed to see her lawyer or contact her family, and therefore her relatives have not been able to ensure she has the medication she needs for the neurological condition.

We therefore respectfully request that the Iranian authorities provide Dr. Hoodfar with immediate access to her family and lawyer; that she be supplied with the medication she needs; and that she have her passport and other documents returned so that she can return to Canada.

Thank you in advance for your time and consideration on this urgent matter.

Yours sincerely,

California Scholars for Academic Freedom**

Contact Persons:

Katherine King, Professor Emerita of Comparative Literature and Classics, University of California, Los Angeles. Phone: 310-822-2830; email

Nancy Gallagher, Research Professor and Professor Emerita of History, University of California, Santa Barbara.  Phone:  805-893-2993; email:

Dr. Dennis Kortheuer, Emeritus. California State University, Long Beach.  Phone:  (310) 427-2265; email address:

Sondra Hale, Research Professor and Professor Emerita, University of California, Los Angeles.  Phone: 310-836-5121; email:


**CALIFORNIA SCHOLARS FOR ACADEMIC FREEDOM (cs4af) is a group of scholars who defend academic freedom, the right of shared governance, and the First Amendment rights of faculty and students in the academy and beyond. We recognize that violations of academic freedom anywhere are threats to academic freedom everywhere. California Scholars for Academic Freedom investigates legislative and administrative infringements on freedom of speech and assembly, and it raises the consciousness of politicians, university regents and administrators, faculty, students and the public at large through open letters, press releases, petitions, statements, and articles.


June 15, 2016 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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