Meanwhile, In Blackrock

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This afternoon.

Outside the Iranian embassy at Mount Merrion Avenue in Blackrock, Dublin.

A group of academics from Dublin’s major universities gather in full academic garb, to call for the release of anthropologist and Irish citizen Homa Hoodfar from prison in Tehran and to highlight what they claim is the Irish government’s lack of action.

Homa has been in prison in Tehran for the past three months and, a week ago, her family and friends received the news that she has been hospitalised.

In a piece recently published in The Guardian, Tariq Ramadan wrote:

As a Muslim scholar, I am deeply troubled by the unlawful and unjust detention of professor Homa Hoodfar, an Iranian-Canadian scholar who was detained in March while visiting friends and family in Iran. Members of the Revolutionary Guard raided her home, confiscated her personal belongings and passports, summoned her for interrogations, and finally imprisoned her in Tehran’s Evin prison without access to her family or a lawyer.

Her treatment violates principles of intellectual freedom, justice and fairness that are central to the Islamic system of morality.

Born in Iran and now a Canadian and Irish citizen, Hoodfar is a senior anthropologist who has devoted her academic career to studying the family as well as the duties and rights of women in various Muslim contexts.

A renowned scholar, she has taught at Concordia University in Montreal for the past three decades. Her research on Muslim women’s struggles – both in the Middle East and in the west – is balanced and characterised by respect for those about whom she writes.

Her extensive work on Muslim women living in the west and their veiling strategies has been a particularly important contribution to challenging colonial images of the Muslim veil, while at the same time helping to address Islamophobia in the west.

Since she is neither a political activist nor part of any political movement opposing the government of Iran, she never hesitated to visit the Islamic republic to see family or conduct historical research.

While Tehran’s prosecutor recently announced indictments against Hoodfar – along with several other dual nationals – the charges she faces remain unknown. Semi-official reports in newspapers with links to the Revolutionary Guard, however, accuse her of “dabbling in feminism” and fomenting a feminist “soft revolution” against the Islamic republic.

Hoodfar’s treatment demonstrates the extent to which her work has been misunderstood by the Iranian authorities. Her research poses no threat to Iran’s government or its people, and her arrest is deeply disturbing for anyone who values academic freedom and independent scholarship.

The detention of Homa Hoodfar is unjust and unIslamic. Iran should release her (The Guardian)

Pics: Emer O’Toole

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44 thoughts on “Meanwhile, In Blackrock

  1. Sheik Yahbouti

    Sadly. the first I’ve heard of this situation (ok I’m an ignorant yorick). Any sign of Charlie Flanagan, our great battler for Justice? Too busy with the Rio One?

      1. Neilo

        I’m sure some of us could overlook Mr Flanagan’s affinity* if we get a result with this. May as well dream while I’m awake, I suppose!

        *Peculiar to me that his father was no philo-Semite.

  2. shitferbrains

    I’m not so sure quoting Tariq Ramadan – a Sunni apologist for the Muslim Brotherhood – to the Shia Iranians is a good idea.

  3. manonfire

    Honestly i dont know why Patsy Hickey hasnt contacted George Gibney in Florida

    Apparently hes very good at getting green cards to the states no questions

  4. rotide

    Never heard of this but obviously its a dreadful situation going on the facts available.

    Whats the Irish connection? It’s a bit unclear here, she seems to be canadian.

    1. MoyestWithExcitement

      “to call for the release of anthropologist and Irish citizen Homa Hoodfar”

      Yes, very unclear.

          1. pedeyw

            You guys seem to be arguing different things. She is an Irish citizen, yes, but seeing as she was born in Iran and has worked in Montreal for the last thirty years, how is it that she came to be an Irish citizen? At least that’s what I assume rotide meant.

          2. Sheik Yahbouti

            Perhaps her parents availed of Albert Reynolds’ ” passports for sale ” facility.? Dunno. Look it up and enlighten the rest of us, why don’tcha?

          3. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

            I think that when the phrase ‘Irish citizen’ is used instead of just plain ‘Irish’, there’s more to it. Which, obviously, there is in this case.

          4. MoyestWithExcitement

            “I think that when the phrase ‘Irish citizen’ is used instead of just plain ‘Irish’, there’s more to it.”

            You make it sound sinister. In this case, it simply means she wasn’t born in Ireland. If anyone has any evidence to suggest she has Irish citizenship for dubious reasons, I’m sure plenty would be interested to read it.

          5. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

            I’m not making it sound sinister. You’re reading it that way, as is your wont.

          6. MoyestWithExcitement

            You’re suggesting that there’s “more to this” case than we know because the word citizen was used instead of “plain old Irish”, but ok then. Whatever you say.

          7. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

            The “more to this” is, as Owen pointed out, that she married an Irishman.
            No more than that. But feel free to read something “sinister” into it.

          8. MoyestWithExcitement

            Yes, that certainly sounds like vital information that should have been included in the report above. Do we also know what her first childhood pet was called?

  5. Spaghetti Hoop

    The article applauds all her great work…but fails to say why she was detained.

    Why was she detained?

    Has she been charged, and if so, for what?
    Hospitalised for what? Has she been attacked in prison?
    A bit of factual information would be nice.

    1. Weedless

      “While Tehran’s prosecutor recently announced indictments against Hoodfar – along with several other dual nationals – the charges she faces remain unknown. Semi-official reports in newspapers with links to the Revolutionary Guard, however, accuse her of “dabbling in feminism” and fomenting a feminist “soft revolution” against the Islamic republic.”

      My reading of that is that the writer of the article doesn’t know what she’s charged with and possibly no one has been told.

    2. Fergus

      She has a neurological condition, myasthenia gravis (spelling might be out) which impedes her from both walking and talking fully when untreated. Her ‘crimes’ are an accusation of collaborating with a hostile power and “dabbling in feminism” (she has done very valuable work on gender roles in Middle Eastern societies) and she is not a political activist, her research just doesn’t please the Iranian government very much. Nor does her holding more than single citizenship. There are other news sources which provide this information, research is more helpful than conjecture.

  6. Neilo

    I’m wary of directing anyone towards Amnesty International, Spagnolia, but there’s a little more info on the Irish website, I believe.

    1. Spaghetti Hoop

      Thanks!
      Even if she is being unlawfully detained, this style of non factual, protesting reporting irks me.

    1. Fergus

      Actually no western nations are doing anything about this, and the appeals for her release make clear that she has not been granted legal due process according to Iranian law. So this is nothing to do with imperialism and all to do with suppression of academic enquiry and harassment of multiple nationality citizens (a particularly vulnerable one in this case given her serious illness) by a country which is in the midst of a slow burning political wrestling match, in which sadly prof Hoodfar is a pawn. (Ie between Rouhani and the reformers vs Khamenei, the Revolutionary Guards and other hardliners).

      Why don’t you try thinking about things before shooting your mouth, it’s a handy way to preserve credibility.

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