In the run-up to the annual “Free Iran” rally in Paris earlier this month, Tehran sent its foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, to Paris to prevent the annual gathering of the opposition. A contract for the benefit of the French oil giant, Total, was signed.
Hossein Shariatmadari, editor-in-chief of Kayhan daily, and affiliate of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, wrote an article titled “Humiliated and Rewarded”, which discussed the PMOI gathering in Paris and the signing of the Total contract occurring at the same time. He wrote, “The remarks of former French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner at a PMOI meeting one day after Zarif’s return from France is another sign of the French government’s insistence on humiliating our nation.”
When Kouchner spoke at the gathering, he said, “Zarif was welcomed in France yesterday. I do not want to blame French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. We are an old republic, and on this basis we can welcome everyone and accept him in our country, but perhaps we should do the right thing at the right time”. He continued, saying that in his opinion, welcoming Zarif the day before this gathering was not a good idea.
“But we are very happy and proud that in fact the government did not publish a general statement about Mr. Zarif’s visit,” Shariatmadari wrote.
On July 1st, at the Villepinte convention hall, northeast of Paris, the annual PMOI gathering was held. Some 100,000 supporters from all over the world attended this event. The hall was filled to capacity, but thousands stayed outside so that they could still share in the rally.
In Tirana, the capital of Albania, another gathering was held, and joined the Paris summit via satellite. Nearly 3,000 PMOI members who were relocated from Iraq to Albania attended this event.
These huge rallies show the strength of the PMOI, even while in exile. They organized a huge gatherings and hosted hundreds of political and parliamentary figures from all over the world.
Maryam Rajavi, was the keynote speaker. She is an influential leader of this movement, who believes in gender equality and pluralism. In her speech she emphasized three essential facts.
She said that the light of change is shining on Iran. The ruling regime is in disarray and the Iranian society is simmering with discontent. “These circumstances,” she said, “highlight three fundamental truths related to freedom and liberty in Iran, as well as peace and tranquility in the region.” According to Mrs. Rajavi, first is that the overthrow of the regime is an imperative. Second, this overthrow is within reach. The third is a democratic alternative and an organized resistance exists, which is capable of toppling the theocracy in Iran.
Participants at the gathering said that the message and purpose of it was to declare war against the regime. They said that people of Iran and the region can only be free if the regime is overthrown.
This seems to be proven by Khamenei himself, who, in a recent speech, warned that any change in the system’s behavior means changing the whole system.