Iranian Scholar Arrested

Special to The Times

The detention of one of Iran’s top scholars late last week has raised concerns here about arbitrary arrests.

Friends and relatives of Ramin Jahanbegloo say he was arrested at the airport soon after he and his family returned from an extended visit to India.

His wife has refused to comment for fear that publicity may complicate matters. “I cannot say anything,” she said Tuesday when contacted by telephone.

Jahanbegloo, who has doctorates in philosophy and political science from Harvard and the Sorbonne in Paris, has written and edited more than a dozen books, mostly on philosophy, in English, French and Persian. He has also written articles about Iran in newspapers and magazines abroad.


In one article he wrote for the Spanish newspaper El Pais this year, Jahanbegloo challenged Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s contention that the Holocaust was a myth. In another recent article published on the Internet, he called on Iran and the West to exercise caution in the escalating war of words over Tehran’s nuclear activities.

Iranian authorities have not given any details about the arrest of Jahanbegloo, who also holds Canadian citizenship.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said this week that he had heard about the detention of a Canadian national from the Canadian ambassador, who had reported it to the Foreign Ministry and had asked for information. The spokesman said the matter was under investigation.

Jahanbegloo’s arrest could make relations between Iran and Canada even frostier. There has been little official contact between the two countries since the July 2003 death of Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi while in Iranian custody.

The Canadian Foreign Ministry declined to comment.

Iran’s largest reformist party, the Islamic Iran Participation Front, has expressed concern about the detention of Jahanbegloo and the lack of information from the authorities.

“We are very concerned about his fate,” said Saeed Shariati, a party spokesman. “Given the experience that we have had in the past, we call on the judiciary to explain and accord him with all the rights of individual citizens.”