The Founding of PMOI
The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (Also known as MEK, or Mujahedin-e-Khalq / Mujahedeen-e-Khalq), was founded on September 6, 1965, by Mohammad Hanifnejad, Said Mohsen, and Ali-Ashgar Badizadgan. All engineers, they had earlier been members of the Freedom Movement (also known as the Liberation Movement), created by Medhi Bazargan in May 1961.1
The Freedom Movement advocated the “democratic principles enshrined in the fundamental laws of the 1905-09 [Iranian] Constitution.” For two years, the group held meetings and was allowed to publish a newsletter, supporting “political freedom and the separations of power.”
Large demonstrations in Iran on June 5, 1963, erupted to protest the arrest of Ruhallah Khomeini, after he delivered an especially vitriolic speech attacking the monarchy. The Shah’s police responded with “massive fire power,” killing “thousands of people,” in what has become known as the June Uprising. The Liberation Movement supported the demonstrations and, as a result, it was outlawed, as well as other pro-democratic organizations, and Bazargan was sentenced to ten years in prison.
Two years later, the three young engineers came together to develop a new pathway to bring democracy and freedom to Iran. Replicating the actions of the Freedom Movement would lead only to the same disastrous end. Thus, a new strategy was necessary.
The three engineers formed a discussion group with twenty trusted friends and on September 20, 1965, they convened their first meeting. The members were mostly professionals living in Tehran. Twice a week they came together to discuss religion, history, philosophy, and revolutionary theory.
The PMOI’s quest culminated in a true interpretation of Islam, which is inherently tolerant and democratic, and fully compatible with the values of modern-day civilization. It took six years for the organization to formulate its progressive view of Islam and develop a strategy to replace Iran’s dictatorial monarchy with a democratic government.
The fundamentalist mullahs in Iran believe interpreting Islam is their exclusive domain. The PMOI reject this view and the cleric’s reactionary vision of Islam. The PMOI’s comprehensive interpretation of Islam proved to be more persuasive, appealing, and successful than any attempt in the past.
PMOI (MEK) Today
The PMOI (MEK) today is the oldest and largest anti-fundamentalist Muslim group in the Middle East. It has been active for nearly a half century, battling two dictatorships and a wide range of issues. More than 120,000 members and supporters, because of their commitment to democracy and freedom, have been executed by the mullahs’ regime. The organization supports:
- Universal suffrage as the sole criterion for legitimacy
- Pluralistic system of governance
- Respect for individual freedoms
- Ban on the death penalty
- Separation of religion and state
- Full gender equality
- Equal participation of women in political leadership
- Modern judicial system that emphasizes the principle of innocence, a right to a defense, and due process
- Free markets
- Relations with all countries in the world
- Commitment to a non-nuclear Iran
The PMOI remains a strong and cohesive organization, with a broad reach both worldwide and deep within Iran. It is the leading voice for democracy in Iran, supported by its interpretation of Islam that discredits the fundamentalist mullahs’ regime.
On July 21, 1981, Massoud Rajavi announced the formation of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, while he was still in Tehran and called on all democratic forces to join the coalition. The announcement was precipitated by a vote in the Iranian parliament that declared the democratically-elected President Bani-Sadr incompetent. Khomeini soon thereafter removed him from office.
The NCRI is an inclusive and pluralistic parliament-in-exile that has more than 500 members, including representatives of ethnic and religious minorities, including Kurds, Baluchis, Armenians, Jews and Zoroastrians. Members of the NCRI support the establishment of a secular democratic republic of Iran, based on the separation of religion and government.
The PMOI is one of five major members of the NCRI. It is the largest and most popular resistance organization in Iran.