A Cult called NCRI

Most cultish groups in the world are active in recruiting, expanding their activities, and gaining money and power [62]. One cannot resolve the problems related to the cults through a philosophical debate or their denunciation through heated discussions on TV.  The threat that the cults impose on our societies goes beyond that. The cults, in fact, threaten the physical condition, psychological health, political power and democratic freedoms in our societies. The cults may even threaten the lives of our people.

In a cult, the self appointed leader is the centre of power and is the one who determines the values and goals. There is no limit to the authority of the leader. He/She will not respond to any-one and preaches a sort of a religion that has been invented by the superficial extraction of elements from this or that religion. Some of the most common and important methods that the leadership of a given cult uses for preserving and expanding its dominating power are:


The physical elimination of its opponents

Discrediting and treating the opponents as traitors before and after the physical elimination,

Slandering, accusing and using abusive language against its opponents and critics 


Impetuously inverting the ideological and political positions

Inculcation and making the others believe what the cult says as true and inciting its members to self-humiliation and destruction of their own character are among other main tactics used against who have doubts, questions, hesitations or opposition to the leadership of the cult. The individual by turning to be a devotee inculcates in himself that he has no power to distinguish and understand the issues. Thus it is the leader who builds up the ideas and interprets the meaning of life.

 It is the leader who defines what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is bad and who are friends and enemies. He is not answerable to the followers and there is a huge distance between him and the rest.

He is a person considered beyond a normal human being and capable of doing impossible things; and therefore others should obey and follow him. Contrary to the authentic religions who invite followers to obey God, in cults, the leader of the cult itself takes the place of God and becomes sacred and divine. Most cults try to use a deviated language and culture of religions to gain legitimacy. It is for this reason that they claim that the leader of the cult inspired by divine teachings is aware about the secrets of the world creation and world view and the nature of the human being. That’s why telling lies, deception and temptation and having multiple personas are justifiable in the cult and having these characteristics would be permissible to protect the leader and members of the cult.

The leader of the cult forms the society under his/her control in a closed and confidential manner. In this way, secrecy and confidentiality of issues –even minor ones- are vital and irrefutable. Emphasis on protecting the cult secrets is aimed at creating a harsh discipline and security hierarchy based on total and blind obedience. [63]

MKO, taking Marxism as a model, as of its inception and during expansion of its organi-sational structure, administered itself based on democratic centralism or central rule based on majority of votes. According to the Organisation there was a transitional period between the years 1978 and 1979 and between 1979 and 1984 when Rajavi’s authoritarian rule was established and from 1984, the organisation transformed itself into a cult. According to Iran Interlink, 1985 saw the start of the internal ideological revolution:

“[It was] Introduced at the time of the marriage of Massoud Rajavi with Maryam Azdonlou in February 1985. Rajavi declared himself the self-appointed ideological leader of the Mojahedin, or spiritual leader – a role taken over in public by his wife Maryam Rajavi since his disappearance after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Along with this role he introduced ‘phases’ of the Internal Ideological Revolution which would in his terms lead the members to a full understanding of his ideological beliefs. The phases includ-ed daily reporting of thoughts and feelings; forced marriage followed by forced divorces; separation of children from parents; confession of sins including erotic dreams and fantasies. The aim of these phases is to connect the member to the leader with nothing between them in an exclusive relation-ship of total submission to the leader’s will.” [64]

Former member Anne Singleton, on the BBC’s Newsnight programme, also describes the effects of the cult upon her and confirms the many reports of MKO survivors (former members) of the brain washing activities of the group. The piece mentions that many former MKO members gave account of the ‘psychological manipulation’ that was designed by Massoud and Maryam Rajavi to control the minds of the MKO members. Ann Singlton and her husband Massoud former MKO activists who had served MKO for 20 years in “absolute loyalty” were amongst them. It was launched in the name of “permanent ideological revolution”. The project aimed the renunciation of all types of sexual feel-ings and family connections. MKO leaders decreed that every member of the organization should divorce their spouses in order to dedicate their entire effort, energy and thoughts for the sake the Rajavi Family. Ann Singleton states that MKO expected that its members devote their wholel being to the Rajavi family. This was enforced through a system of daily reporting. Any types of erotic thoughts and fantasies had to be reported to the organisation in “details” in the form of complete openness [65].

According to Bahar Irani, the drift towards a cult started before the internal ideological revolution:

“The most explicitly expressed views in this respect are stated in a book entitled Ravand-e Jodaee "the process of separation" edited by a number of MKO’s separated members. The book is in fact the formal declarations of a number of Iranian students in abroad who published it just after the start of the ideological revolution. It investigates the strategic deviations of MKO and Rajavi from the organizational principles that inevitably led the organization into a cult:

“It is highly probable that Mojahedin, if they fail in their identification with liberalism and assuming the political power and face an overall stalemate, will turn into a cult because of their separation and isolation from the masses; something which is not unprecedented in the history. [1]

“In this regard, another ex-member has nearly the same opinion:

“Before the initiation of the military phase in 1980, some eminent political figures imprisoned by Shah [Pahlavi’s regime] who were somehow familiar with MKO envisaged it would turn into a cult! It was predicted that if the organization failed to settle it with the liberals, it had to inevitably suffer isolation and turned into a closed religious cult. [2]

“In this regard, Ali Ferasati, an MKO member, states that in 1984 Rajavi ordered the infor-mation bureau of the affiliated associations to do some investigation about the structure of cults. He says:

“In 1984, the information bureau of associations was asked to investigate the western religious cults. The reason was said to be since the imperialists were pushing policies ahead through religious cults, the organization needed to find out what the cults were doing and under what mechanism. [3]

“As Ferasati points out, he had managed to realize the real intention of Rajavi:

“At the time I got to the bottom that Massoud [Rajavi] was aware of the fact that the organization was getting dissociated and thus, wanted to see how the western cults operated so he could model on them[4]” [66]

In this period, the tendency towards a single person’s rule increased and gradually dominated all over the organisation. From December 1979 Masoud Rajavi’s tyranny became more evident and he became the lead man in the organisation.


“After the death of Mussa Khiyabai in February 1991, Rajavi became the irrefutable ruler of the organisation. From this time, Masoud Rajavi soon engaged himself to downgrade this political/religious organisation into a semi-religious/Mafia cult. Masoud Rajavi sat in place of God and all members of the organisation were duty bound, openly and officially, to bow in front of this new idol.” [67]

Maryam Azadonlou [68] repeatedly in her speeches, talked about “Rajavism” or “Masoudism” school of thought. “Rajavi considers himself the sole rightly designated representative of God on earth and calls the organisation the arrowhead.” [69] The following reasons indicate that the organisation turned itself into a cult:


Adopting a mixed ideology

Sanctification of Rajavi leadership

Its position regarding the family

Organisational divorces

Ideological revolutions and secret inter-organisational relationships



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