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Iran: Religious Minorities Cry for Freedom

Religious persecutions began and the institutionalized restrictions were put in place. Many Christians and Jews fled the country, but some stayed. They were given token representation in parliament to allow the Iranian regime to maintain the illusion of legitimacy.

The Iranian Christian minority did not see any improvement after President Hassan Rouhani assumed office. This was confirmed by U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom when its 2015 annual report noted an increased number of religious minorities jailed under Rouhani, who has been depicted by the West as a “moderate.”

Jam wrties, “The Obama administration did all it could to sell the nuclear deal as a victory, at best it has deferred the ultimate questions about how to deal with the regime in Iran, and at worst it has emboldened their belligerence in the region. A successful policy vis-a-vis the regime in Tehran has seemingly eluded Republicans and Democrats for the last 16 years,” and she adds, “In all fairness, it is time to try something new, for our own sake and for the sake of Iranians.”

While the Iranian people face the threat of terrorism at home, and the increase of conflicts abroad, easy solutions to these problems aren’t available. 

“A common denominator underlying the rise of ISIS, and the spread of instability and fundamentalism is none other than the regime in Tehran. No one can deny this. Yet at every turn in the past eight years we were told that the only solution is one which engages the mullahs and strengthens their grip on power. The time for such thinking is at an end,” according to Jam.

The regime has been reluctant to make good on promises of change, and thus far has continued its brutal repression of dissidents while maintaining an aggressive policy in the region. The question of how to guarantee a long term shift in the behavior of the Iranian regime remains unanswered.

The legitimate right of the Iranian people to bring about democratic change and topple the theocratic fascist state in Iran is the only long term policy that can guarantee a fundamental change of behavior in Iran, and will set an example for hope and change abroad, says Jam.

Sh believes that it is time for the United States to aligned itself with the forces in Iran and in the Middle East which embrace democratic change, freedom and liberty, and secular governance. She says further, that the Iranian people and their organized resistance should be the primary negotiating partners and allies, not the ruling regime.

She is, of course, referring to the principal opposition to the Iranian theocracy, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). “The MEK has long served as an example of an organization whose principal aim has been to combat Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism that emanates from it. Khomeinists engaged in widespread repression of the MEK, and the West remained silent as they executed tens of thousands of MEK activists,” Jam writes.

The MEK is the most integral part of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), a coalition of Iranian opposition organizations who support a secular future for Iran, guaranteeing freedom of speech, the rights of ethnic and as well as religious minorities, and calls for strict equality between men and women. As a matter of fact, the NCRI is led by a woman, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi. Her leadership and platform stand as a direct antithesis to Islamic fundamentalism.

A new future for Iran is what Mrs. Rajavi advocates, including a ten point plan for a democratic secular republic free of nuclear weapons, capital punishment, and tolerant to all religions, ethnicities and ideas. The plan will not only end the threat of Iran’s nuclear program, but would bring a new era of cooperation between the United States and Iran, as well as addressing the instability from Syria to Yemen, and all throughout the region.

An historical opportunity is available to the new administration for change in one of the most troubled spots in the world. “The new approach is both moral and politically savvy,” Jam concludes.