Middle East studies in the News
Arrest of Homa Hoodfar in Iran Shines Light on Dangers for Dual Citizens
by Thomas Erdbrink
A Canadian-Iranian professor researching women in the Muslim world has been arrested by Iranian intelligence officers, the latest in a series of detentions of Iranians holding dual citizenship.
The professor, Homa Hoodfar, was initially detained on March 10 by the intelligence unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and was then released, but she was not allowed to leave Iran. After a series of interrogations, Ms. Hoodfar, a professor of anthropology at Concordia University in Montreal, was arrested again last week and transferred to Evin prison, her family said in a statement released on Wednesday.
The family said it was unclear why Ms. Hoodfar had been arrested and that she had been "conducting historical and ethnographic research on women's public role."
Analysts say the recent arrest of Ms. Hoodfar and others seems to be part of a concentrated effort by hard-liners to pressure dual citizens. Hard-liners distrust foreigners, especially dual citizens, who can travel into Iran without visas.
In recent months, the unit that arrested Ms. Hoodfar has questioned dozens of people with two nationalities and arrested several.
The unit's actions are also seen as a tactic to frustrate President Hassan Rouhani's efforts to bring wealthy and knowledgeable expatriates back to Iran to help revive its sputtering economy.
Because Iran does not recognize dual citizenship, those who are arrested are treated as Iranians and refused consular services. In January, four Iranian-Americans, including a Washington Post reporter, Jason Rezaian, and a researcher, Matt Trevithick, were released in a prisoner swap with the United States.
Iran is currently holding a consultant, Siamak Namazi, and his father, Baquer Namazi, a former Unicef official, who are also both citizens of Iran and the United States. Siamak Namazi was arrested in October and his father in February.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian employee of Thomson Reuters, was separated from her young daughter in April and taken to a prison in Kerman, in southern Iran. It is unclear why she was arrested. Another British-Iranian citizen, a businessman named Kamal Foroughi, was also arrested.
Iran also holds a Lebanese information technology expert, Nizar Zakka, who has legal permanent residency in the United States. Mr. Zakka had been invited by an Iranian institution to attend a conference but was arrested by the Revolutionary Guards Corps intelligence unit on his way to the airport in September.
Analysts say that some of those prisoners have value for the Iranian authorities as possible bargaining chips in future swaps.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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