by Mahmood Hakamian
One of the most common reasons given for dismissing the Iranian Resistance, specifically the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI/MEK), is that it is unpopular within Iran. This is simply untrue.
The MEK is the largest and most popular people’s resistance movement within Iran and it enjoys support from all sectors of the population. The Mullahs’ Regime, on the other hand, is highly unpopular among the Iranian people as evidenced by the hundreds of protests per day in 2017, which was admitted to by the Regime and finally by the recent nationwide protests and uprising in which the Iranian people clearly expressed their desire for regime change as the one and only solution to all the problems.
Getting precise numbers of MEK members and supporters in Iran is impossible because this organization has been banned there since the early 1980s, shortly after the then Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini declared the MEK to be enemies of the Regime.
The punishment under the Regime for being associated with the MEK can be execution- under some vague charges of enmity against god- so it is no wonder that MEK members have to keep their political affiliation under wraps. Despite this, many Iranians will hold MEK banners or flags during protests or hang them up in public places before elections, so you can see that the MEK is incredibly popular in Iran.
If you wanted a more precise way to measure support for the MEK within Iran, one of the best ways is to look at the viewership figures for the MEK’s television channel Face of Freedom. This channel presents unbiased news to the Iranian people, bypassing Regime censorship, and also hosts programs on Iranian history, literature, culture, art, music, and comedy.
The MEK’s television channel has about 10 million daily viewers, while the website associated with Voice of Freedom gets tens of thousands of daily hits. In 2017, the channel held a telethon to keep the channel going and raised $5.5 million, which is a lot of money in Iran.
Regime knows that MEK is popular
Moreover, if the MEK were just a fringe political group that was unpopular in Iran, why would the Mullahs’ Regime dedicate so much time, money, and effort into eliminating the MEK?
Over the course of its existence, the Iranian Regime has murdered at least 120,000 people, majority of the supporters and members of the MEK. The single biggest incidence was the 1988 massacre, when Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for the extermination of the MEK. Over the course of just a few months, 30,000 political prisoners again mostly MEK members and affiliates, were murdered in mass executions and buried in mass graves. This included people who had already served their sentence as a political prisoner, children, the elderly, and the pregnant. No one was spared.
If 120,000 is the number of the MEK members that have been executed, then it stands to reason that the numbers who are still active in Iran are much higher. It also does not take into account those who are imprisoned, tortured, or otherwise punished for MEK membership.
Even if we only took into account the supporters who have been killed by the Regime, 120,000 is not a small number for support of a political party. In the UK, the Scottish National party has about 120,000 members and it’s the third-biggest party.
If a political group is truly unpopular within a certain country, the people in charge don’t need to demonise them, fight for them to be put on terrorist watch lists, or murder them. Simply, the Regime sees that the MEK is popular in Iran and a threat to the continued existence of the Regime, which is why they try so hard to suppress the MEK.
Why is the MEK widely supported in Iran?
There are many reasons why the MEK is popular amongst the ordinary Iranian people- far too many to list here- but some include the MEK’s commitment to democracy, its embracement of modern society, and its tolerant interpretation of Islam.
The MEK support a democratic, non-nuclear Iran with a commitment to human rights and gender equality; something that most Iranians want.
The Iranian people are much more democratic, tolerant, and loving, than the Regime that rules them and want to see a Free Iran. They support the MEK and despise the Regime.