Will Alex show?

Steve Cooke reports on the latest news from the Hands Off the People of Iran campaign

Torab Saleth of Workers Left Unity Iran is challenging Alex Callinicos of the Socialist Workers Party to debate Iran in a fringe meeting at the annual Marxist festival this weekend. Unfortunately, comrade Callinicos has not yet responded to our invitation.

Comrade Saleth is an experienced and well respected Iranian Marxist. Naturally, he wants to correct what appears to be the SWP's view on Iran - that the left should go soft on criticism of the theocratic regime while it is under threat from imperialism. That is a recipe for disaster. Instead the left should fight on two fronts: against imperialism, against the theocracy.

The fringe meeting - co-sponsored by Hands Off the People of Iran - will be held at 5pm on Sunday July 8 in room 541, Birkbeck College, Malet Street, London SW1. All are welcome to attend and participate in what should be a lively discussion.

Meanwhile, those signed up to Hopi's founding statement continues to grow, many of them offering to help the campaign practically, including with finance.

Among those who have declared their support during the last week are novelist and screenwriter Ronan Bennett, folk musician and songwriter Alistair Hulett and feminist artist Caroline Coon.

They were joined by Chris Strafford, an activist in the Solidarity Federation, the British section of the International Workers' Association, and Hilary Rose, professor emeritus in social policy at the University of Bradford and co-convenor of the British Committee for Universities of Palestine, an organisation set up to support the Palestinian call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

Another recent signatory is Cornel West, honorary chair of the Democratic Socialists of America and professor of religion at Princeton University. Professor West is also known to a wider audience and especially science fiction fans for his acting roles in, and philosophical commentaries on, The Matrix films.

Other newly signed up professors from the United States include Marxist philosopher Bill Martin (DePaul University, Chicago), sociologist Elaine McDuff (Truman State University, Missouri), South Asian politics expert William L Richter (Kansas State University) and Julia Clancy-Smith, a historian specialising in the Middle East and islamic culture (University of Arizona).

In the UK, professor of operational research Jonathan Rosenhead (London School of Economics), historian Dr Toby Abse (Goldsmiths, University of London), philosopher Dr Samir Okasha (University of Bristol) and geographer Dr Fleur Visser (University of Worcester) confirmed their support for Hopi.

Elsewhere, political scientist professor Moataz A Fattah (Cairo University), literary critic professor Annie Gagiano (Stellenbosch University, South Africa) and cultural studies specialist professor Lisa Leung (Lingnan University, Hong Kong) have given their backing to the campaign.

If you would like to join Hopi's growing list of supporters, you can sign up via the campaign website at www.hopoi.org or email your name, position/affiliation and contact details to office@hopoi.info. If you are interested in organising a local event for Hopi, the campaign team can supply speakers and advise on how best to publicise it.

Don't hesitate to call us on 07738 828540 or email office@hopoi.info.