Members of the Iranian diaspora across the globe rallied to support the overthrow of the clerical regime, and for democratic change in their homeland. An elite group of officials from from the US, Europe, and the Middle East joined them.
The Iranian crisis has a solution — there is an alternative to the fundamentalist regime. This was the message of the “Free Iran” event.
Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the NCRI, gave a rousing keynote address. She announced, “The ‘velayat-e faqih’ lacks legitimacy. Khamenei’s standing has plummeted dramatically,” as chants of “down with the velayat-e faqih” (absolute clerical rule) and “Death to Khamenei!” filled the exhibition hall.
During the uprisings in Iran early this year, these chants echoed across the country. Many of the slogans the protestors inside Iran chanted were formulated and echoed by the NCRI and the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK).
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh wrote about his experience at the NCRI’s Grand Gathering in Paris. “The MEK’s popularity inside the country is growing and many of the speakers and analysts I talked to at the event believe the organization is coordinating the protests,” he said.
Earlier this year, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei publicly cited intelligence reports saying that the MEK organized the nationwide uprisings. He added that, in their media outlets, the MEK has been calling for demonstrations for months.
After kicking off in the holy city of Mashhad in December, the demonstrations quickly spread through more than 140 cities. By January, Iran saw massive and unprecedented protests against the clerical rulers.
And they have never really ended, as farmers, religious minorities, truck drivers, taxi drivers, students, and laborers continue to protest against the regime, especially as the economy progressively deteriorates.
Mrs. Rajavi said in her speech that the ongoing protests and strikes will lead to the overthrow of Tehran’s rulers.
Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City, and US President Trump’s legal adviser, also spoke at the event. “This president does not intend to turn his back on freedom fighters,” Giuliani said, and continued, “We have an alternative” in the form of the NCRI that respects human rights, democracy, women’s rights, and a non-nuclear Iran. “That’s what Madame Rajavi stands for.”
Former governor and US ambassador to the United Nations, Bill Richardson said, “The end (of the mullahs) is near. What you’re seeing is enormous change.” He told the cheering crowd, “You are the source of change in Iran, the young people, the women, the resistance. Is there an alternative to the mullahs? Yes, it’s the resistance, the MEK, Mrs. Rajavi.” He promised, “We stand here as Democrats and Republication, liberals and conservatives, we may have our differences, but listen to my voice in Tehran, make no mistake, everyone of us stands behind Donald Trump in seeing the destruction of the mullahs to the end.”
Giuliani explained that the protests in Iran do not occur spontaneously. “Protests are happening because they’re being coordinated (unlike 2009) by many of our people in Albania [where MEK members reside], many of our people here and around the world.” He added, referring to Mrs. Rajavi, “This woman will be the face of a new moderate liberated Iran.”
Stephen Harper, the former Canadian prime minister said, “The executioners work relentlessly” in Iran. “The protests in the streets rise in the streets and they will rise until the regime is gone.”
Former Canadian foreign minister John Baird said, “Today, we join Madame Rajavi, a woman of great courage and great determination.”
The many speakers and attendees included a former FBI director, a former US attorney general, two former French foreign ministers, a former Italian foreign minister, diplomats, and parliamentarians from around the world.
Former speaker of the US House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich said, “Our goal is not to renegotiate. Our goal is to have a free democratic Iran that respects the right of every individual.”
As a democratic coalition of Iranian opposition groups, the NCRI has a mandate to peacefully transition power to the Iranian people after they are free of the current regime.