The Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA) is gravely concerned by the escalating pattern of harassment and detention of American academic researchers and scholars by the Iranian government, and believes that there are significant risks for researchers who intend to travel to Iran, especially those holding dual Iranian-American citizenship.
The Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA) was founded in 1966 to promote scholarship and teaching on the Middle East and North Africa. The preeminent organization in the field, the Association publishes the International Journal of Middle East Studies and has more than 2700 members worldwide. MESA is committed to ensuring academic freedom and freedom of expression, both within the region and in connection with the study of the region in North America and elsewhere.
The Committee on Academic Freedom (CAF) of MESA has written to President Ahmedinejad calling for the release of Dr. Haleh Esfandiari and has been closely monitoring the actions of the Iranian government. CAF notes with alarm the growing number of scholars and researchers in recent weeks, among them Kian Tajbakhsh, who, like Dr. Esfandiari, have been harassed, detained, and subject to defamatory campaigns.
It is unprecedented in the history of this organization to issue a statement of concern; however, CAF feels compelled to bring the emerging pattern of grave infringements on academic freedom, scholarly research, and intellectual exchange to the full attention of MESA members and other scholars who may be contemplating travel to Iran.