Iranians attending an annual grand gathering in Paris over the weekend in support of democracy in Iran commemorated also the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Iran’s main opposition group, the Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK/PMOI).
The MEK is the main organisation in the opposition coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), led by opposition leader Maryam Rajavi.
At the major rally in Paris there was a large memorial in memory of the founders of the MEK and the 120,000 MEK members who had been executed by Iran’s regime.
A video clip with a summary of the MEK’s pro-democracy activities was broadcast, and young Iranians went on stage to read out short accounts of the MEK’s 50-year struggle against the regimes of the Shah and the mullahs. Each one finished by endorsing the MEK.
The MEK was founded on 6 September 1965, by three university students, Mohammad Hanifnejad, Said Mohsen, and Ali-Ashgar Badizadgan to overthrow the Shah. According to the website of the NCRI, the MEK’s original members were mostly professionals living in Tehran. At a time of severe repression by the Shah’s secret police SAVAK, twice a week the MEK members came together to discuss religion, history, philosophy, and revolutionary theory.
Though all three MEK founders were later executed by the Shah’s regime, from prison central committee member Massoud Rajavi re-built the MEK which became a pivotal force in the 1979 anti-monarchical revolution.
The fundamentalist mullahs in Iran believe interpreting Islam is their exclusive domain. The MEK rejects this view and the clerics’ reactionary vision of Islam. The MEK’s comprehensive interpretation of Islam has proven to be more persuasive, appealing, and successful than any attempt in the past.
For the MEK, freedom, human rights and peace, and gender, ethnic and religious equality are not merely political commitments, but ideological principles based on the MEK’s view of the Quran and the traditions and teachings of Prophet Muhammad, Shiite Imams, and other leaders.
While the fundamentalist mullahs believe in the concept of velayat-e faqih, which invests law, power, and legitimacy to a Supreme Leader, the MEK believes the sole criterion for political legitimacy is the ballot-box. It is the electorate, expressing itself in a free and fair election that gives a party, group, coalition, or individual the mandate to govern.
For about two and a half years after the revolution, the MEK used the little political openness that existed to spread their message and garner support. On June 20, 1981, a peaceful demonstration by half-a-million MEK supporters in Tehran was turned into a bloodbath on the orders of Khomeini, and the MEK was forced to go underground and begin a Resistance campaign to expose and unseat the Khomeini regime.