A gathering organized by an Iranian opposition group in Paris on Saturday July 1 has prompted Tehran to react and ask the West to stop lending its support to such events.
Dubbed “Free Iran”, the ceremony – organized by the National Council of Resistance of Iran – was held in Paris with hundreds of supporters and several current and former US politicians.
One prominent speaker at the Paris rally was former New York mayor Rudi Giuliani. “It’s been a long road and there is still a few more miles to travel and the road has been littered with blood,” said Giuliani addressing the crowd, referring to the execution of MEK members and supporters in Iran.
“We have a different world in many ways, we have a different administration in Washington […] and under President Trump’s leadership I believe he can help us rid the Iranian people of the oppression that has subjected them for so long. Unlike prior administrations, he is not in a state of denial,” Giuliani said. “We can see the world beginning to turn… we can see we are being able to convince the world that there are no moderate members of the present regime,” added former Mayor Giuliani.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran is the political wing of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran or Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), a group Tehran has labelled as “terrorist”. Thousands of its members have been executed by the Iranian government.
On the same day as the ceremony was held in the French capital, Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, said upon his return to Tehran from Paris that Iran regrets the group has been permitted to operate in France.
Zarif told Iranian state television that he had raised the subject in his conversations with French officials. “They have always insisted that they have no relationship with the group whatsoever,” Zarif said.
Iran’s foreign minister also accused Saudi Arabia of having always supported the MEK: “Since last year they decided to reveal their cooperation and participate in their gatherings,” said Zarif.
Zarif was referring to the former Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Turki al-Faisal, speaking at the event. Faisal said during this year’s gathering that the meeting is meant to “remind the world of the crimes of the [Iranian] regime against its people and against its neighbors.”
The relationship between Tehran and Riyadh has reached a historic low point recently. Both countries accuse each other of stirring turmoil in the region.
The Islamic Republic of Iran considers the MEK a terrorist group that has murdered civilians in its military operations. The MEK says its objective is “democracy and freedom” for the future of Iran.
We categorically never paid money to any of dignitaries.Shahin Gobadi, MEK Spokesperson
One of the controversial points raised against the candidacy of Ebrahim Raisi, the candidate who ran against Rouhani in this year’s presidential election, was Raisi’s role in the mass killing of political prisoners in the late 1980s.
Raisi was a member of the so called “death quartet” appointed by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to execute mainly the MEK members who did not agree to pledge allegiance to the Islamic Republic.
Both the European Union and the United States of America have briefly listed the MEK as a terrorist organization.
Iranian media and officials of the Islamic Republic have repeatedly accused the MEK of bribing foreign dignitaries to participate in their ceremonies.
Responding to a question about this accusation, MEK Spokesman Shahin Gobadi told Radio Farda that such allegations are all “regime’s propaganda”.
“We categorically never paid money to any of dignitaries. They only participate in such events because of their political beliefs,” Gobadi told Radio Farda.