One of those disinformation campaigns is the ‘Islamist Marxist’ label that the Shah’s Secret Police (SAVAK) originally used to disparage the MEK in order to undermine its support among the devout Iranian people because the Shah was scared of the MEK’s potential to mobilise Iranians- particularly the youth- against the monarchy. The Shah and SAVAK also used it to disparage other political opponents of the monarchy.

Why? Because of the public perception of the word in Iran as being synonymous with atheism, materialism, and Westernism.

Newspaper reports didn’t help clear up the matter because all opponents of the monarchy (and there were many) would be placed in the same paragraph, meaning that the MEK would be listed in the same paragraphs as the Communist Party and the Marxist People’s Fedayeen, which may have given the false impression that their policies were similar.

After the 1979 Revolution, the MEK wanted to establish a democratic government, while Ruhollah Khomeini and his mullahs wanted a fundamentalist theocracy and the two groups clashed. After the Shah left, the mullahs began to attack the MEK using their terrorist proxy thugs.

The mullahs and their Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) continued to misrepresent the MEK and referred to them as godless Marxists. However, the mullahs and the MOIS went much further than the Shah and the SAVAK in this regard, because the mullahs are alarmed by the MEK’s popularity and see the MEK as a threat to the Regime.

In 1981, MEK leader Massoud Rajavi: “Every high school student knows that believing in God, Jesus Christ, and Muhammad is incompatible with the philosophy of Marxism. But for dictators like Khomeini, ‘Islamic Marxist’ is a very profitable phrase to use against any opposition. If Jesus Christ and Muhammad were alive and protesting against Khomeini, he would call them Marxists, too.”

To be clear, the MEK has never referred to itself as Marxist, socialist, or communist, according to Iran historian Ervand Abrahamian, and they have shunned Marxist philosophy. Massoud Rajavi has even said that the MEK avoided the socialist label to avoid being misrepresented in the people’s minds.

The MEK actually spent the first six years of its existence studying Islam, philosophy, history and economics in order to formulate its political positions based on a democratic and tolerant interpretation of Islam and to prepare a strategy to replace the Shah’s dictatorial monarchy.

In 1982, Massoud Rajavi said: “The Islam we want is nationalist, democratic, progressive, and not opposed to science or civilization. We believe that there is no contradiction between modern science and true Islam, and we believe that in Islam there must be no compulsion or dictatorship.”

However, after 50 years of being described as Marxists, especially during the Cold War, many people wrongly believe this about the MEK. We must be clear, the MEK is not Marxist; they are freedom fighters who believe in democracy and a tolerant Islam.

This is part of a series. See the previous debunking article here.