Friends prepare for return of Concordia Prof. Homa Hoodfar detained in Iran
Due to arrive in Montreal Thursday after being held for 3 months in a notorious Tehran prison
Friends of the retired Concordia University professor who had been detained in Tehran's infamous Evin prison since June are preparing for her arrival Thursday in Montreal.
But there are no plans just yet for a big party for Homa Hoodfar.
"Everybody is conflicted between wanting to be with her and spend time with her and also the need to be really, really respectful of what she's been through," Marguerite Mendell, a friend and fellow Concordia professor, said in an interview.
"She's been through an indescribable last three months that none of us can possibly even imagine."
Hoodfar, who is 65 and suffers from a rare neurological disease that causes severe muscle weakness, was detained in Iran for 112 days. She was taken to hospital at one point, and friends say she could barely walk or talk.
The Iranian-Canadian was released from prison Monday and has spent the past few days in Oman, where she was met by her niece, Amanda Ghahremani.
- ANALYSIS | Homa Hoodfar: A hostage, not a criminal
Hoodfar is expected to speak to reporters upon her arrival on Thursday morning at Montreal's Trudeau airport.
Friends say they plan to take their cues from Hoodfar, in terms of what comes next. For now, they are making sure her Montreal home is ready for her and stocked with food.
"Everybody is doing the best they can, but also knowing that it's her home, and we should not invade. Just to make sure that she's got food and that her house will receive her warmly," Mendell said.
Mendell said she eventually hopes to host a big party for her longtime friend.
"I hope to have one, but not for a while," she said.
Hoodfar, an anthropologist who writes about sexuality and gender in Islam, was accused by Iranian authorities of collaborating with a hostile government against national security and with propaganda against the state.
Those charges, however, were never presented to her lawyer. Instead, they were published in the Iranian press, which quoted the prosecutor as saying Hoodfar was "dabbling in feminism."
Hoodfar was indicted along with three others who are still detained in Iran:
- Siamak Namazi, an Iranian-American businessman.
- Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, an Iranian-British woman who works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of the news agency.
- Nizar Zakka, a U.S. permanent resident from Lebanon who has done work for the American government.
Hoodfar's release came following Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion's meeting with his Iranian counterpart at the United Nations in New York last week.
Canada has had no formal diplomatic relations with Iran since September 2012, when the former Conservative government closed its embassy in Tehran and expelled Iranian diplomats from Ottawa.