As U.S. Puts On the Pressure, Iran Looks for Evidence Against Detained Academics

Iran is on a fishing expedition. They’re fishing for the rarest of beasts: indisputable proof that Haleh Esfandiari and her Iranian-American colleagues have somehow undermined the authority of the Iranian state. According to Ali Reza Jamshidi, the judiciary spokesman, the government has unearthed new evidence that is supposedly in-line with the charges levied against Dr Esfandiari and her colleague, Kian Tajbakhsh.


When asked what the evidence may be, Jamshidi failed to elaborate, leaving the public to speculate as to what the most recent brainstorming session inside the judiciary had concocted.


As the United States puts more pressure on Iran, the Islamic Republic is putting more pressure on its own citizenship, with a top-down reform of the government from the office of the president to the judiciary and all the way to the regulation of women’s dress on the streets of Tehran. Many observers cite the United States’ foreign policy and its clearly hostile posturing towards Tehran in the form of democratic initiatives that are causing widespread paranoia amongst the ruling elite. In the meantime, the United States edition of Glamour Magazine has created a profile and locus of mobilization in their August 2007 issue of the women’s monthly.


Editor Cindi Leive has written a brief piece on-behalf of Dr Esfandiari’s daughter, Haleh Bakhash, to bring awareness to her mother’s imprisonment at Evin Prison. The article includes a link to Amnesty International and the Free Haleh campaign.


Dr Esfandiari’s imprisonment has finally landed in the laps of the average American woman, and this is where those of us who work in Muslim Women’s Studies are grateful for the work and mass-appeal of glossies. For now, the Iranians appear to have temporarily brought the boat in from the sea with nets full of something that only the mullahs can see and at home in the United States, the academy continues its vigil on-behalf of Haleh and her family. Insh’Allah, we will not need the candles for much longer.

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About Elle Alexandra Jerome

A. Scheherezada Jerome is an Anglo-Ottoman Instructor of Islamic Studies at York College of Pennsylvania. She graduated from Dickinson College in 2003 with a self-developed major in Middle Eastern Studies and Spanish. In 2004, she graduated from the School of Oriental and African Studies with an M.A. in Islamic Societies and Cultures. Finally, in 2005 she finished her second M.A. in Gender and Identity in the Middle East (Summa Cum Laude) at the University of Exeter. After finishing the first stages of her postgraduate work, she was an intern in Women’s Affairs at the Embassy of Afghanistan. In addition to her academic work, she manages her non-profits, The Shaherazade Project and Women Against Crimes of Honor. She’s also the coordinator for postgraduate students in the Association for Middle East Women’s Studies. Currently, in addition to her teaching duties she is the editor of Kohl an anthology of Muslim-American women’s writing to be published in 2007 and is working on research for her second novel, Hürrem Sultan.

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