Homa Hoodfar's Concordia colleagues mobilize to help jailed professor

Members of the Concordia community are coming together do their part to help free imprisoned professor Homa Hoodfar.

Students, colleagues express shock and concern over professor's imprisonment

Professor Homa Hoodfar was first arrested in March, and then again in recent days. (Concordia University)

Members of the Concordia community are coming to the aid of imprisoned professor Homa Hoodfar.

Professor Marguerite Mendell said that since news broke of Hoodfar's imprisonment in Iran, her colleagues have been buzzing about ways to take action.

"Everybody is poised to do something ... people who don't know her and people who do," said Mendell.

Hoodfar, an anthropology professor, was visiting Iran to see family and do academic research when she was arrested by the counter-intelligence unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, which seized her laptop and passport.

She was released on bail but was arrested again this past Monday.

Since then, her extended family has been unable to make contact with her, and they say they're worried about her fragile health.

Hoodfar's former students are also expressing shock over what's happened.

Kathryn Jezer-Morton took a graduate class with her in 2014. 

"Just the thought that she would be in any kind of stressful situation was really shocking to me, she's just a lovely person and a lovely professor," she said.

Letter-writing campaign

Mendell says they've discussed a letter-writing campaign to Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion, and have circulated a petition calling for Hoodfar's release.

"Honestly I don't think you have to be her friend to get caught up in this. It's a violation of someone's right be incarcerated without knowing why," she said.

Kimberley Manning is a political science professor at Concordia and principal of its Simone de Beauvoir Institute.

Manning said she has worked with Homa for more than 10 years but knew of her by reputation before she started working at Concordia.

She said she and her colleagues at the institute are concerned she was targeted because her field of study.

"For us at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute, this is an egregious example of the limiting of the capacities of, not just women scholars, but of women to pursue their livelihood, their work," she said.

In a statement, Concordia President Alan Shepard said he is "profoundly concerned" by Hoodfar's incarceration.

"Dr. Hoodfar is a valued member of the Concordia community, having taught and conducted research here for many years," he said.

Shepard said the university is monitoring the situation and has been in touch with the Canadian government.

With files from Kamila Hinkson