California Scholars for Academic Freedom

Letter concerning Dr. Homa Hoodfar

CALIFORNIA SCHOLARS FOR ACADEMIC FREEDOM

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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
email: iran@un.int
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

Email: larijani@ipm.ir

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 iran@un.int

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  king@humnet.ucla.edu

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

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

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

 

**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 | Leave a comment

Letter to Pres. Hirshman, SDSU, re hate speech

CALIFORNIA SCHOLARS FOR ACADEMIC FREEDOM

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President Hirshman

San Diego State University

San Diego, CA

Dear President Hirshman,

The California Scholars for Academic Freedom,* a group of over 200 scholars, is writing to express our deep concern about the hate speech plastered across your campus by the Horowitz (so-called) Freedom Center and your subsequent response.

It is absolutely essential to defend the students who are being attacked by such hate speech.  In this case, they happen to be students who are involved in Students for Justice in Palestine and the Muslim Students Association.  All of the students on your campus should be defended in their freedom of speech and their political views, especially when they are politically controversial.  These students’ speech is not the same as hate speech.  Criticism of the Israeli occupation is not the same as anti-Semitism, just as criticism of, for example, China, is not the same as racism against Chinese people.

The ramifications of this case go beyond the students directly targeted by the flyers, as it needs to be put in the context of a worsening climate for Muslim students across the country, and, of course, concerns fundamental rights to speak and be heard without fear of intimidation, harm, and discrimination.

It is of special concern to us that you have failed to respond to the over 80 faculty and staff who have written to you on this matter, urging you to condemn the hate speech in the Horowitz Center’s posters.

We urge you to respond with a strong defense of the university as a space of academic freedom.

On behalf of the California Scholars for Academic Freedom (cs4af),

Research Professor Sondra Hale,

Departments of Anthropology and Gender Studies

University of California, Los Angeles

sonhale@ucla.edu

Professor Lisa Rofel,

Department of Anthropology

University of California, Santa Cruz

LROFEL@ucsc.edu

*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 14, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Letter to UCLA Chancellor Block re AAA boycott vote

20 May 2016

Gene Block, Chancellor

University of California Los Angeles

Dear Chancellor Block,

We members of the UCLA faculty write to express our strong disapproval of the University of California administration’s letter to the American Anthropological Association regarding an ongoing vote of the AAA’s membership on whether to endorse a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. This letter, which states that “the University of California believes that an academic boycott is an inappropriate response to a foreign policy issue (our italics),” represents blatant interference in the academic freedom of UC’s faculty (who were not consulted) and is, to our knowledge, unprecedented.

The letter, dated April 19, 2016, is signed by President Janet Napolitano and all ten UC Chancellors. Your own role in this letter, however, is much more than that of a signatory. According to an article published April 26, 2016 in the popular Israeli YNET news.com, you yourself instigated the letter after being contacted by a consortium of Israeli university presidents

(see http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4796154,00.html ).

We consider your letter a breach of the principles of faculty governance. The faculty has a fundamental right to guide academic policy and standards, including our right to determine freely our association with other scholars and institutions. Moreover, since it was issued during the ongoing process of the vote with the imprimatur of administrative authority, your letter can only be regarded as an attempt to influence and even intimidate faculty on our campus and to deter them from voting for this resolution.

It is in no way appropriate for university presidents and chancellors to seek to unduly influence positions to be taken by academic associations, nor to interfere in the voting procedures of professional scholarly associations. The AAA has engaged in a three-year democratic process in coming to this vote, including a major Association Task Force investigation and report.

Furthermore, the vote is taking place in accordance with the Association’s bylaws and procedures. You should not be acting to chill or to influence this vote, the AAA process, and the voices of the AAA membership.

Your letter asserts that not only is an academic boycott “inappropriate” but that it “threatens academic freedom.” Although the boycott resolution targets only institutions and not individuals, you incorrectly imply that “free expression, robust discourse and vigorous debate over ideas and principles” would be restricted. We hope that your willingness to defend “our scholars’ ability to choose their research and colleagues” will stay strong where it is truly needed: that is, in defense of the principles of the AAUP, which, we note, uses a version of “academic boycott” (i.e. the censure list) as a tool to enforce academic freedom. Your executive interference with the deliberations of an academic professional association is perceived by many as coercive and counterproductive. We respectfully request that in future you honor the principles of shared governance and at the very least, consult with the Academic Senate and the UCLA Faculty Association before taking positions that cast a decided chill on the academic freedom you purport to hold so dear.

Sincerely yours,

Katherine King, Professor Emerita of Comparative Literature and Classics

Carole Browner, Research Professor of Anthropology and Gender Studies

Sondra Hale, Research Professor of Anthropology and Gender Studies

And 16 additional signatories

May 28, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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