Homa Hoodfar, an anthropology professor at Concordia University, is being treated abominably as a pawn in Iranian politics. At this rate, she may well die from illness in a notoriously horrendous prison without having been charged or convicted of any crime.
Prof. Hoodfar is a triple citizen of Canada, Iran and Ireland. She has travelled back and forth to Iran, and she appears to have had a considerably more benign view of the social and political order in Iran than most Canadians do. She has extensively studied the culture and lives of women in Iran.
In 2013, President Hassan Rouhani of Iran (the equivalent of a prime minister rather than a president) appointed Shahindokt Molaverdi as deputy minister of women and family affairs. Ms. Molaverdi sounds like the sort of person that Prof. Hoodfar would approve of.
Earlier this year, she visited Iran and was detained by the counterintelligence unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp. She was freed for a while, but not allowed to leave Iran, and then she was moved to the horrific Evin Prison – which may be said to specialize in political prisoners.
Appearances suggest that Prof. Hoodfar has been set up by the Revolutionary Guards, as if she were some sinister Western agent trying to undermine Iranian values.
Surely President Rouhani should stand up against the Revolutionary Guards to demand Prof. Hoodfar's freedom, even though he may have many other tasks to deal with.
Meanwhile, Prof. Hoodfar is without the medication she needs. She is 65, not old by modern standards, but the conditions in Evin Prison, and frequent interrogation, are undoubtedly wearing her down. Nor has she been allowed to speak to her lawyer. There are real doubts that she will survive this ordeal much longer.
The Iranian regime seems to persecute Iranians who have dual or multiple citizenships. It has tormented other Iranians who have such status, but has not altered its citizenship law for the future.
Some Canadians reasonably argue that it would have helped if we still had an embassy in Iran. Regardless of that, the pointless cruelty toward Prof. Hoodfar shows how much more the Iranian regime needs to do.