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Why We Must Win Against Religious Fundamentalism

by Mahmoud Hakamian

For Mrs Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the Iranian Resistance, Iran and the rest of the world can never be free, unless religious fundamentalism is tackled to the extent that it is no longer a threat for human lives.

Speaking at a conference at Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe (PACE),  three weeks after the Paris attacks, she highlighted the importance of that very same barbarianism to be studied in many respects, including the historical circumstances that triggered its emergence, the societal dynamics that facilitated its development and growth, the international policies that enabled the expansion of such a destructive force, and its fundamental incongruity with Islam.

Hence, for Mrs Rajavi, this platform was essential for consulting Islamic fundamentalism, looking at why it might be losing or winning.

This conference was well attended by many important politicians and lawmakers from Europe.

Even with the escalation of terrorist attacks, formation of fundamentalist groups and an overall rise in Islamic fundamentalism, Mrs Rajavi still assured the international community that it was not too late for them to learn from these harsh events and unite to form a correct path.

Keeping this goal in mind, she touched upon four aspects, each essential for understanding where the global world might be going wrong regarding fundamentalism, and how we could correct it. Firstly, for her Islamic fundamentalism, both in its essence and in its daily political conduct represented a growing war against humanity, which would determine the fate of this reactionary force. Secondly, the rise and growth of Sunni fundamentalist groups was not spontaneous, rather a reaction of the current regime in Iran. Third, Islamic fundamentalism is not a suspected adherence to Shiite or Sunni Islam; rather, the decisive factor is the extent of dependence on the source of fundamentalism in Tehran. Lastly, for her, evicting the Iranian regime from Iraq and Syria is the most important component of a winning strategy.

Mrs Rajavi, described why she thought a fundamentalist regime was so successful in Iran, one that was growing in size and power, rather than diminishing.

For her, it was only through the existence of a terror-sponsoring, fundamentalist regime; the velayat-e faqih (absolute clerical rule) in Iran, that Islamic fundamentalism was able to transform itself into a global threat. Within the Iranian regime’s Constitution, the export of fundamentalism has been codified in Articles 3, 11, and 154 under the guise of “relentless support for the worlds oppressed” or creating “unity in the Islamic world”. Moreover, in his will, the founder of the religious dictatorship, Khomeini, called for the overthrow of all existing governments in the Muslim world, followed by the eviction of their rulers, and the establishment of “one Islamic state with free and independent republics.” However, for Mrs Rajavi, this was one of the ways, the Iranian regime, demanded justification for their actions, hiding under the banner of their own fabricated version of Islam.

For the Iranian regime, the determining factor is the presence of a fundamentalist regime in power in Iran, which acts as a role model and inspires the formation of other fundamentalist groups and cells. Mrs Rajavi ensured the audience that in the absence of such a regime, there would have been no intellectual, ideological, or political space for the emergence and growth of such oppressive groups.

Narrating a few examples, she points out how during the past two decades, the Iranian regime has paved the way for the advance of groups such as ISIS or al-Qaeda. For years, many prominent leaders of these groups in Syria and Iraq had taken refuge in Iran. For her, if it were not for the brutal suppression and subsequent marginalization of Sunnis in Iraq by these ‘mullahs’ ISIS would have been deprived of the opportunity to rise. Hence in reality, the mullahs ruling Iran benefit directly or indirectly from any terrorist or criminal conduct masquerading as Islamic duties.

One very important question that Mrs Rajavi raised was why the mullahs have a need for, terrorism and instigating crises outside the Iran’ borders? For her the answer was simple, where it was the same reason needed to suppress Iranian society domestically. They did this because the regime’s inherent weakness, lack of social support, political and spiritual legitimacy were not in line with the progressive demands of Iranian society.

For the mullahs exporting war and terrorism under the banner of Islam beyond Iranian borders was another way to preserve their power in Tehran, including limiting freedom and democracy. Mrs Rajavi said they did this by desperately pursuing the persistence of tyranny, misogyny, and religious discrimination, that they needed preserve their crumbling regime.

Looking into the aspects of why the world was losing to fundamentalism, she called upon one the western governments’ weakness in the face of the Iranian regime’s nuclear weapons program, and the inclusion of the regime in the international coalition against ISIS or courting it in some way in Iraq and Syria. For her, partnering with the mullahs in Iraq would equip them with a destructive weapon that was a hundred times more lethal than a nuclear weapon.

The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) has been the flag bearer of a democratic and tolerant Islam in Iran, and has had a pivotal role in defeating fundamentalism socially and culturally inside Iran. As a result, the Iranian regime does not rule through reliance on the beliefs of the population, but instead rules with an iron fist.

For Mrs Rajavi, it was through the determination of such organizations, and the will of the Iranians themselves, that was paving the path of freedom, on brick at a time.

Mahmoud Hakamian is member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI)