A Brief on the Life of Maryam Rajavi
Maryam Rajavi was elected as Iran’s future President for the transitional period following the overthrow of the religious dictatorship ruling Iran by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in August 1993. The NCRI is a coalition of democratic Iranian groups and personalities committed to a secular, non-nuclear republic in Iran.
Mrs. Rajavi was born in Tehran in 1953 and received a degree in Metallurgy from Sharif Industrial University in the Iranian capital
Her older brother was a member of the main Iranian opposition movement, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) in the 1970s and his incarceration by the Shah’s regime inspired Mrs. Rajavi to step up her activities against the Shah, in particular her work with the families of political prisoners and those executed by the regime.
Following the 1979 revolution, Mrs. Rajavi was among officials in charge of the Social Section of the MEK. In that capacity, she not only helped recruit young Iranians, in particular women, into the ranks of the organization, but also work closely with women and mothers to organize rallies and demonstration in support of democracy in Iran.
In 1980, Mrs. Rajavi was a candidate for parliamentary elections but the mullahs’ regime prevented all MEK candidates from getting into the parliament by rigging the elections.
Mrs. Rajavi became the joint-leader of the MEK in 1985, a position she held until 1989, when she became the Secretary General of the organization.
Prior to his election as the NCRI President-elect, Mrs. Rajavi resigned from her other posts to focus on her new responsibility as NCRI’s President-elect.
In her new capacity, she led the Resistance’s campaign on the international stage, leading a worldwide effort to expose human rights violations in Iran, Tehran’s export of terrorism and fundamentalism and its bid to acquire nuclear weapons. She also worked to inform the world community about the objectives of the Iranian Resistance on a variety of issues.
In her new position as the President-elect of the Iranian Resistance, Rajavi, as a Muslim woman, presented a formidable political, social, cultural and ideological challenge to the misogynist mullahs who invoked God to justify their actions. In Maryam Rajavi, the fundamentalist mullahs see a leader who represents everything they hold in contempt.
Propelling Women Forward
Under Maryam Rajavi’s leadership, women assumed the most senior positions within the ranks of the Resistance. Women make up half the members of the NCRI while the PMOI’s entire Leadership Council is comprised of women.
Rajavi’s election gave Iran’s oppressed society, especially women, new hopes for a brighter future. With beliefs covering the entire political spectrum, Iranians rallied to her support and she became a true symbol of national unity against the religious tyranny in Iran.
Rajavi has given extensive lectures on modern and democratic interpretations of Islam as opposed to the reactionary, fundamentalist interpretation of the religion. In her view, the most prominent distinction between these two diametrically opposed viewpoints centers around their outlook on women.
She believes that women are a determining force in the struggle to achieve democracy in Iran.
She has also brought attention to Iran’s rich, but endangered, artistic and cultural heritage. Many famous performers, filmmakers, artists, painters, sculptors, poets and writers have expressed their support for her platform for a free and secular Iran.
In 1995, after an invitation from Norwegian political parties, Maryam Rajavi visited Oslo to meet with them. There, she warned about the threats posed by the octopus of theocracy and Islamic fundamentalism, the heart of which beats in Tehran, and added, “Fundamentalism is now the primary threat to global and regional peace.” She also said, “The mullahs ruling in Iran exploit the religious beliefs of more than a billion Muslims in the world and seek to expand their rule and export crises and tensions outside Iran’s borders.”
Rajavi presented “democratic Islam” as her alternative to fundamentalism.
As she points out in her book “Women, Islam, and Equality” (printed in Farsi), in her view, in accordance with Prophet Mohammad’s traditions and explicit Quranic texts, Islam considers human freedom and respect for freedom of choice as an inviolable principle. Islam advocates and defends freedom because it sees free votes and elections as the criteria of legitimacy.
Maryam Rajavi emphasizes that in contrast to the mullahs that falsely drape reactionary rules as God’s edicts, the main tenet of Islam is popular sovereignty. It is the people that must pass their own laws.
She adds that Islam rejects forcible promotion of religion and has obligated its followers to respect and show tolerance and peacefully co-exist with believers of other faiths and religions.
According to Maryam Rajavi, the principle of human equality, regardless of gender, race, and ethnicity, forms one of the tenets of Islamic ideas. In contrast to the mullahs’ misogynist views, Islam also advocates gender equality.
Maryam Rajavi believes that Islam and Quran are endowed with a dynamic spirit. She says: The mullahs stress that the commands and rules of Islam must be enacted precisely as they were enacted 1400 years ago. However, Quranic verses prove that commands must not turn into fixed dogmas, but rather that they must give way to newer commands that correspond with the always changing circumstances in order to help pave the way for human progress and best respond to social needs.
In an address to gathering of 100,000 Iranians near Paris on June 18, 2011, Mrs. Rajavi said:
“Our goal is to establish a free and democratic republic based on the separation of church and state, gender equality and with emphasis on women’s equal participation in political leadership. We want a non-nuclear Iran.
Our platform could be summed up in three words: Freedom, Equality and the supremacy of the people’s vote.
“This has been our ideal from the outset. We are not fighting and making sacrifices to be able to grab onto power. We have not even set our sights on sharing power and the ability to govern. Our biggest mission is the establishment of the people’s sovereignty and democracy….[W]e would be content to remain in opposition and feel honored to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of giving the Iranian people the ability to choose freely.”
The Iran of Tomorrow
In June 2004, at a gathering attended by more than 20,000 Iranians near Paris, Maryam Rajavi announced that the Iranian Resistance will advocate a ban on the death penalty after Iran has been freed from the mullahs’ tyranny.
Maryam Rajavi announced the position even though supporters of the Iranian Resistance are still being executed by the clerical regime.
In April 2006, Mrs. Rajavi outlined the Iranian Resistance’s viewpoints for the future of Iran in a ten-point plan during a speech in the presence of Liberal and Socialist political groups at the European Council. These views include: Compliance with the people’s vote as the sole criterion of legitimacy, emphasis on a pluralistic system of governance, respect for all individual freedoms, a ban on the death penalty, separation of church and state, full equality between men and women, equal participation of women in political leadership, a modern judicial system which upholds the principle of innocence and right to defense and due process, respect for free enterprise, establishment of relations with all countries in the world, and commitment to a non-nuclear Iran.
These positions are all meant to serve the creation of a true and stable democracy in Iran, for which Maryam Rajavi has dedicated her life. She says, “This Resistance wants nothing but free elections for the people. Our goal is not to obtain power at any cost. Our goal is to secure freedom and democracy at any cost, even if that cost is to sacrifice our own existence.”
The Third Option
On December 2004, in a speech at the European Parliament, Maryam Rajavi proposed a third way and a clear prospect to resolve the Iranian crisis, a crisis that has profoundly worried the international community. She said:
“The mullahs in Tehran, along with those who stand to benefit from the status quo, have sought to inculcate the idea that any serious change would necessarily be contingent on a foreign war, which renders compromise [with the regime] as the only remaining option. But, I have come here today to say that there is a third option: Change by the Iranian people and the Iranian Resistance.
“Formulating the prospects on Iran between ‘either a conflict and military intervention or appeasement’ is nothing more than a political deception. With the removal of foreign obstacles, the Iranian people and Resistance would have the ability and inclination to bring about such change. This presents the only way for averting a foreign war. Offering concessions to the mullahs is not the alternative to a foreign conflict and will not discourage them from pursuing their malevolent ends.”
Maryam Rajavi advocates tolerance among various religions and faiths. She consistently stresses promotion of secularism and recalls that on the basis of a tolerant interpretation of Islam, Islam rejects forcing religious beliefs on others, and considers the followers of all religions equal in the eyes of the law.
During her visits to various countries, she regularly visits churches and meets with Christian leaders.
To counter Ahmadinejad’s ominous statements about the denial of the horrendous massacres committed during the Holocaust, on November 25, 2008, during her first trip to Germany, Mrs. Rajavi visited the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, and said:
“The experience of Holocaust must always grip our memories; it came out of the painful experience of appeasement towards fascism, the outcome of offering concessions to an inhumane power, and the result of trusting fascism’s deceptions and claims and ignoring its growing threats.
“This experience serves as a warning to the contemporary world that it must recognize the threat posed by the religious fascism ruling Iran.
“The German nation’s identity is not mirrored in Hitler just as the Iranian people’s identity cannot be seen through Khomeini, Khamenei and Ahmadinejad. The true spirit of the Iranian nation can be discerned through a resistance movement that has thus far dedicated 120,000 of its best and brightest for the cause of freedom.”
Rajavi has a son, Mostafa (32), and a daughter, Ashraf (30).
Maryam Rajavi’s Ten Point Platform for Future Iran
- From our point of view, the ballot box is the only criterion for legitimacy. Accordingly, we seek a republic based on universal suffrage.
- We want a pluralist system, freedom of parties and assembly. In Iran of tomorrow, we will respect all individual freedoms. Expression of opinion, speech and the media are completely free and any censorship or inquisition is banned.
- In the free Iran of tomorrow, we support and are committed to the abolition of death penalty.
- The Iranian Resistance is committed to the separation of Church and State. Any form of discrimination against the followers of all religions and denominations will be prohibited.
- We believe in complete gender equality in political, social and economic arenas. We are also committed to equal participation of women in political leadership. Any form of discrimination against women will be abolished. They will enjoy the right to freely choose their clothing.
- We want to set up a modern legal system based on the principles of presumption of innocence, the right to defense, and the right to be tried in a public court. We also seek the total independence of judges. Cruel and degrading punishments will have no place in the future Iran
- We are committed to the Universal Declaration of Humans Rights, and international covenants and conventions, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention Against Torture, and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of discrimination Against Women.
- We recognize private property, private investment and the market economy.
- Our foreign policy will be based on peaceful coexistence, international and regional peace and cooperation, as well as respect for the United Nations Charter. We will establish relations with all countries.
- We want the free Iran of tomorrow to be devoid of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction.
ABOUT THE TEN-POINT PLAN
As I conclude here I want to just say a word about this Ten Point Plan. As I understand it, this is the third option. I’ve read through that. I like it. I think it’s very well done. Support for the ballot box, support for a pluralist system, separation of the church and state, complete gender equality, a modern legal system, support for the universal declaration of human rights, support for private property, support for peaceful coexistence, support for a free Iran.
February 19, 2011
Several years ago at the European Parliament, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), a coalition of some 540 political and distinguished Iranian personalities and five organizations of different persuasions who are committed to a pluralist, secular and non-nuclear republic in Iran, announced her plan for the future of Iran, once the theocratic regime is unseated in that country.
This announcement and the sweeping commitments, while the mullahs’ regime is still in power, is in sharp contrast to what Khomeini did when he went to Paris a few months before the fall of the Shah. He expected the Iranian people and the international community to take him for his words and promises, which he egregiously violated once in power.
Mrs. Rajavi, on the other hand, has put forth her vision for the future Iran so that there would no ambiguity whatsoever about what she and the NCRI seek to accomplish once the current regime is ousted.
The plan is quite significant for a democratic future in Iran because for the first time in nearly 50 years of dictatorship in that country, ballot box will become the sole criteria and yardstick for political legitimacy and holding public office.
In addition, by committing itself to gender equality, the NCRI is paving the way for equal participation of women in all spheres of activity, most importantly in political decision making regarding domestic and foreign policy of Iran.
Another major commitment made by the NCRI is peaceful coexistence and establishing relations with all countries in the region, which heralds a peaceful Middle East in the decades to come.
And last, but not least, the NCRI’s commitment to a non-nuclear Iran allays all the concerns about a nuclear arms race in the region and continuing tension in that volatile region of the world.