Gissou Nia argued that these arrests, as well as the imprisonment of Iranian-Canadian anthropology professor Homa Hoodfar, Iranian-American academic Haleh Esfandiari, and others in academia, will lead academics to “revisit” their beliefs that research can be carried out “safely” in Iran.
“Of course, Ahmady’s arrest is also occurring against the backdrop of recent tensions in the Iran-UK relationship, caused by tanker seizures which prompted the British Foreign Office to advise against travel to Iran for all British-Iranian dual nationals.”
Another British-Iranian dual national, charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, was arrested in April 2016 and sentenced to five years in prison.
So far, the UK government has not responded to Ahmady's arrest.
Ahmady holds a post-graduate degree in anthropology and visual ethnography from the University of Kent and worked on community development programs with a focus on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), early child marriage, and male circumcision.
In 2009, he published a guideline for traveling to the 15 provinces inhabited by Kurds in Turkey, titled “Another Look East and Southeast of Turkey”.
More importantly, in 2015, he made the first authoritative and comprehensive study on FGM in Iran, a story that was picked by major news outlets such as the Guardian and the BBC.
His research opened up a discussion and debate within the UN and UNICEF on FGM in Iran.
As part of his research, he also made the documentary In the Name of Tradition, based on interviews in Kurdish villages and neighbourhoods of Mahabad.
Ahmady was also working on other somewhat taboo research topics such as temporary marriages in Iran, identity and ethnicity, and homosexuality.
Editing by Nadia Riva