Demonstrators Gather for Imprisoned Professor Homa Hoodfar
The Former Concordia Professor Has Been Imprisoned in Iran’s Evin Prison For Over 100 Days
The streets surrounding Concordia’s Sir George Williams campus were filled with over 100 supporters of former Concordia professor Homa Hoodfar on Wednesday.
Held on De Maisonneuve Blvd. between Mackay St. and Guy St., the demonstration was organized to raise awareness and show solidarity with Hoodfar.
“Please keep talking about Homa Hoodfar. Tell her story to people who don’t even seem interested. Just talk about her.” said Hayley Lewis, one of Hoodfar’s former students and an organizer of the event, to the crowd. “Do not let her disappear.”
The former Concordia professor has been imprisoned in Iran’s Evin prison for 111 days on unclear charges. She was accused of “dabbling in feminism” and collaborating with hostile governments.
Hoodfar’s academic work focuses on removing stereotypes surrounding Muslim women.
Recently, Abolqasem Salvati, the judge presiding over Hoodfar’s case in Iran has dismissed her lawyer and assigned her a different one without her consent.
Among those present at the demonstration were Kimberley Manning, principal of Concordia’s Simone de Beauvoir Institute, Alex Tyrell, the leader of the Green Party in Quebec, and Marguerite Mendell, a close friend of Hoodfar’s and a faculty member at the School of Community and Public Affairs.
The event’s main organizer was Hayley Lewis, who now lives in Vermont. She planned the demonstration from below the border.
“Please keep talking about Homa Hoodfar. Tell her story to people who don’t even seem interested. Just talk about her.” Lewis said, addressing the crowd. “Do not let her disappear.”
Lewis emphasized that people should hold the Canadian and Irish governments accountable for Hoodfar’s safe and unconditional release.
Hoodfar has Irish citizenship, and a protest organized by Concordia professor of Irish Studies Emer O’Toole took place in front of the Iranian embassy in Dublin earlier this month. The Canadian government has not had diplomatic relations with Iran since ties were cut in 2012.
Kimberley Manning then spoke about the recently organized Homa Hoodfar working group, urging members of the Concordia community to help in any way they can.
“Basically, if you are enthusiastic, let us know that you are willing to help and we will put you to work,” Manning said.
After Manning addressed the Canadian government directly, asking for help in securing Hoodfar’s release, and garnering much applause, Alex Tyrell took to the microphone.
Tyrell, an environmental studies student at Concordia, recalled the “tremendous contribution not only to her field but also to our institution and to global society” Hoodfar has made in her 30 years at Concordia.
The Green Party leader called on the Concordia community, saying we have a collective responsibility to ensure her prompt release.
“When they arrested Homa, they arrested us all,” he said.
The final speaker at the demonstration for Homa Hoodfar was her friend and colleague Marguerite Mendell, or ‘Margie.’ Mendell told endearing stories of Hoodfar to the crowd, advocating for her friend’s balanced scholastic work and generous spirit.
“Her values are so important today as we face the increasing effects of racism and cultural and intolerance of the other, and an assumption that a Western vision of who we are is a universal vision,” she said.
In a more urgent tone, Mendell told the crowd to keep Hoodfar’s story alive.
“We will not gather again to say that she has been in Evin prison for 200 days. We will gather together to welcome her home and to celebrate her freedom,” she said.
On Thursday evening—the day after the demonstration—Mohamed Fahmy addressed a room full of people at Concordia, speaking about his experience as a political prisoner. Fahmy was held for 438 in Egypt’s Tora prison. During his speech, he donned a “Free Homa Hoodfar” badge on the left lapel of his blazer.
“It’s becoming a very obvious trend that many of these people who are detained abroad are basically bargaining chips,” Fahmy said of Hoodfar’s situation. “And I believe Ms. Homa Hoodfar is a bargaining chip.”
With files from Joshua De Costa