The Norwegian MP Mahmoud Farahmand’s article, (Nettavisen, February 18, 2023), displays his exasperation over a briefing at the Storting that discussed the six-month-long uprising and the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) as a credible democratic alternative to the medieval and misogynistic regime ruling Iran.”
Mr. Farahmand’s outburst towards his colleagues seems presumptuous. Despite his claims and rehashing of outdated and repeatedly discredited allegations against the Iranian opposition, members of the Storting have been familiar with the NCRI and its President-elect since at least 1994, when Farahmand was still in videregående skole.
His article is replete with factual errors and inuendo, copied and pasted from the propaganda by Iran’s notorious Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS).
The MEK was founded by three Muslim university students and has never espoused Marxist ideology. The origins of the “Islamic-Marxist” label date back to the early 1970s, when the Shah’s secret police, SAVAK, sought to undermine the organization’s growing popularity among young Iranians. The Iranian scholar Afshin Matin-Asgari described it as “an ingenious polemical label” used by the Shah’s regime to discredit its enemies.
In a 1981 interview with Time Magazine, Massoud Rajavi, MEK’s historical leader, said: “Every high school student knows that believing in God, Jesus Christ and Muhammad is incompatible with the philosophy of Marxism. … But for dictators like Khomeini, ‘Islamic Marxist’ is a very profitable phrase to use against any opposition. If Jesus Christ and Muhammad were alive and protesting against Khomeini, he would call them Marxists, too.”
MEK’s history shows a pronounced rejection of the philosophy of Marxism. In late 1979, Massoud Rajavi presented the ideological viewpoints of the MEK in a series of lectures in Tehran University entitled “Comprehending the World,” later published in a 15-volume book.
According to Syracuse University professor Mehrzad Boroujerdi, Rajavi provided the MEK’s critique of the limitations of a host of “isms” such as scholasticism, positivism, pragmatism, scientism, empiricism, and rationalism. But Rajavi saves his most extensive critical commentary for Marxist materialistic epistemology.
Four decades ago, the late U.S. Undersecretary of State George Ball chastised the Western press for characterizing the MEK as Marxist. He wrote, “The sloppy press habit of dismissing the Mujahedeen as ‘leftists’ badly confuses the problem. Masud [Massoud] Rajavi… is the leader of the movement. Its intention is to replace the current backward Islamic regime with a modernized Shiite Islam drawing its egalitarian principles from Koranic sources rather than Marx.”
The assertion that members of the MEK are restricted in their reading is ridiculous. members of the MEK are among the most educated and enlightened members of Iranian society. It’s simply illogical to suggest that in the age of the internet, people can be prevented from accessing news and reports. After a July 2003 visit to Camp Ashraf, Iraq, where the MEK was based until its relocation to Albania in 2012, the late Rt. Hon. Lord Slynn of Hadley, Lord of Appeal in the Ordinary, Advocate General of the European Court of Justice and Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE), had this to say: “What is to be found in Ashraf is a way of life with a commitment to democracy and to peace. Here is a city created with a system of higher education at times at university levels. The world of culture, creativity and music, and literature, which will be the envy of many countries. Ashraf is a world of dedicated people lead by a woman of great commitment and great distinction who has explained, expounded the ideals for which they seek to work, for which they have worked and for which they do work.”
The late Godfrey Jansen, the distinguished Middle East journalist wrote this about MEK members after visiting them in 1987: “Tens of thousands of Iranian students abroad, many of them MEK members in the universities of the United States, Britain, Western Europe and even India. Their presence makes the NLA one of the most highly educated armies in the world (the headquarters library and reading room was full of people).”
More recently, a several bi-partisan delegations, including sitting lawmaker, as well as current and former government officials, from 47 countries to Ashraf-3, visited the MEK’s home at Ashraf-3 in Albania in July 2019, which undermines the MEK’s alleged reputation as a secretive and closed organization. It’s worth asking, what kind of “cult” openly invites the entire world to its home?
The MEK’s role in defending its homeland during the Iran-Iraq War in 1980 is widely acknowledged. In fact, a State Department report from December 1984 noted that “Mujahedin units [MEK] went to the front immediately.” It’s worth noting that the MEK did not move to Iraq until six years after the start of the war, when Iraqi forces had withdrawn behind international borders from Iranian territory. In 1987, Massoud Rajavi appealed to Iraq to stop bombing Iranian cities, a request that the Washington Post reports was heeded by Iraq and saved countless Iranian lives.
The gratuitous remark about Mrs. Rajavi’s attire is not only a blatant insult to two billion Muslims worldwide, but also a clear manifestation of narrow-mindedness and lack of respect for individual freedom. It is a deeply intolerant mindset that fails to acknowledge that every human being, regardless of gender, has the right to choose how they dress. Such unwarranted attacks only serve to distract from the real issue at hand, which is the struggle for democracy and human rights in Iran.
afavi (@amsafavi) is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI)