Concordia University Faculty Association:
Thanks to your generous support and solidarity, I celebrated the end of a very eventful 2016 with my family and friends and welcomed 2017 with a new appreciation for life, friendship, and freedom in all its complex dimensions. I am now free with a much firmer belief in humanity despite my senseless ordeal. Your care and support will be warming my heart for the rest of my life and continues to help me process the bitter memories of the seven months of detention, arrest and interrogation sessions I faced for the ‘crime’ of being a feminist and publishing a book on women and politics that does not mention Iran at all.
Reflecting on my experience, I am acutely aware of the urgency of protecting the freedom of expression and academic freedom as a collective “common good” and not just an individual privileged status. The report from Scholars At Risk that lists hundreds of academics behind bars or those who have lost their jobs globally, including in the western contexts, should read as a warning sign of our society moving to a darker side of history. This trend demands re-examining, historicizing and reiterating the value of academic freedom, not only for the academic community but also for the public at large. While I am still trying to digest and reflect on the what happened to me and to hundreds of others like me, I am determined to do my best to use my experience to push the boundaries of freedom of expression and academic freedom particularly in the contexts of the Middle East whose populations have increasingly remained hostage to autocratic states.
I extend my sincere thanks to all members of the Concordia University Faculty Association who came together and worked to secure my freedom. My special thanks go out to the CUFA executive, namely Charles Draimin, Shelley Z. Reuter, Francoise Naudillon, Genevieve Robichaud, Aaron Brauer, Ted Stathopoulos, Theresa Bianco and Ian Rakita. I would also like to thank my colleagues who worked in close collaboration with the executive and devoted themselves to the campaign to free me, especially Marc Lafrance, Marguerite, Mendell, Kimberley Manning, Greg Nielsen, Emer O’Toole and Geneviève Rail. I wish you all a very happy New Year. May 2017 be the beginning of a more peaceful and saner world.