On Monday, the Council of Europe held one such memorial in the midst of its Parliamentary Assembly. The event was chaired by the council’s Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland and was attended by parliamentarians representing numerous European governments, as well as invitees from political and non-governmental organizations. Among them was Maryam Rajavi, the President of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran, who had been separately invited to speak to the Parliamentary Assembly on the threat of Islamic fundamentalism and its relationship with the regime in Tehran.
Rajavi’s presence at an event in remembrance of violence by Europeans against Jews highlights the changing nature of religious intolerance in a modern, highly globalized world. In her speech to the assembly, the Iranian resistance leader once invoked the memory of World War II, reminding attendees that appeasement of the Nazis had led to war and the exacerbation of the fascist party’s campaign against the Jews. She used this historical reference to warn that appeasing Iran by ignoring its human rights abuses and allowing it to exert influence over Iraq and Syria may lead to similar consequences for the stability of the region and the safety of non-Muslims.
The most prominent threat to Jewish groups and to the state of Israel today often comes from Islamic extremists including Iran-sponsored groups such as Lebanese Hezbollah. This fact was on prominent display two days after Holocaust Remembrance Day when fighting broke out between Israel and Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, stemming from an Israeli helicopter attack on Hezbollah forces in the Syrian section of the Golan Heights.
That attack also killed an Iranian General, raising fears that Iran had been preparing to establish its own presence alongside Hezbollah in an area that would put it within striking distance of Israel. Iran and Hezbollah have conspired together against Jewish targets in the past, not only in Israel but also in Western nations, as with the 1994 bombing of the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association building in Buenos Aires.
In her comments this week, Mrs. Rajavi emphasized that fundamentalist Islam in general and the Iranian theocracy in particular are existential threats not only to Israel and the world’s Jews, but also to other groups including Sunnis and Kurds. She described regime-supported Shiite militias in Iraq as being engaged in “genocide and ethnic cleansing” and quoted a leading Kurdish peshmerga commander as saying that those militias’ crimes against humanity are even worse than those of ISIL militants.
Whereas the Nazi campaign against the Jews 70 years ago was motivated by concepts of racial and ethnic purity, the Iranian regime’s activities are religiously motivated. But Rajavi subtly highlighted the parallels consequences of both of these campaigns, repeatedly referring to the Iranian regime’s ideology as religious fascism.
Her speech referred to the constitution of the Islamic Republic and to the writings of its founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, which respectively call for “unity in the Islamic world,” and the overthrow of all existing governments in order to install “one Islamic state with free and independent republics.”
Rajavi described Islamic fundamentalism, in Iran and throughout the world, as part of a “growing war against humanity,” thus warning of its possible dangers in terms similar to those often used in remembering the past dangers of the Nazis’ racial ideology.