The ideological schism of MKO in 1975, when actually the leaders of the group were in Pahlavi’s notorious prisons, resulted in different reactions on the part of Mojahedin. The serious errors of Rajavi after the separation of Marxist wing following its declared manifesto was elaborated on and those aware of the course of events in that particular period of time were unanimous that the main mistake made by Rajavi was issuing his twelve-point statement that was considered to be the position taken by all non-Marxist Mojahedin about the schism. It stated that Mojahedin would consider the converted members as their strategic allies and openly revealed their opposition to religious members. It happened at a time when all MKO remnants except Rajavi insisted on reviewing and revising the organizational principles and ideological errors of MKO under the impact of Marxism. Karim Rastegar, an ex-member, elaborates on the impacts of this event saying that after the Marxist wing’s manifesto, Rajavi adopted a dual mannerism of keeping unwavering inclination to the left while role-played a devoted religious inside the prison.
An interesting point is that while siding with the non-Marxist wing, Rajavi took a different position toward the leaders of Marxist wing, i.e. Taqi Shahram, Bahram Aram and against truthful leaders opposed to Marxist wing like Majid Sharif Vaqefi and Morteza Samadieh Labaf. According to Rastegar, Rajavi made an attempt to hide his personal errors and stabilize his leadership over the organization by concealing the truth and labeling the former leaders as traitors as agents:
The leaders inside prison, and Rajavi in particular, tried to acquit themselves of accusations and after the terror of Sharif Vaqefi and Samadieh for a long time overturned the truth calling them traitors and introduced the leftist Vahid Afrakhteh as a hero. For instance, they quoted falsely of committee members that Vahid Afrakhteh has turned to a mythical figure under torture. 1
A more interesting point is that his appreciation of some problematic members like Vahid Afrakhteh intensified the crises and increased the doubt of religious members in Rajavi thus making the ground for his increasingly parting with them. In addition, Rajavi took an antagonist position against religious forces inside prison and worsened the conditions:
The behaviors of Masoud inside prison resulted in marginalization of religious forces. Evidently, appropriate reactions could prevent conflicts and detachments. The organization leadership tried to conceal the realities for five months calling us extremists and compromisers while everyone was well aware of the reality. It was no longer possible for us to bear lies and labels given to the religious members Muslims. Our complaint to the conditions resulted in our total boycott. Nobody dared to communicate with us. Some were so heated that even would kill us if they were allowed to. The news of our boycott by organization leaked to SAVAK and they regarded it a precious opportunity. 2
On the other hand, there is the status and position of Marxist wing. Although they took an overall defensive position regarding the ideological schism, their position is preferred to that of Rajavi that was dualistic and divisive. However, many are unanimous that the main reason of ideological schism of MKO was the dualistic and eclectic viewpoints of the early founders of MKO toward Islam rather than the effect of Marxists therein. Torab Haqshenas, a key figure of MKO in that period of time abroad, refers to significant points on the differences between inside as well as outside looking at the ideological schism of Mojahedin and the divisive position of Rajavi in this regard, saying:
In my opinion, the ideological schism had a principle that was neglected and it was the fact that we should not lie to ourselves. It is correct that we made some mistakes and acknowledged it in 1979 and criticized it, but the main point was that we should not lie to people. When we came to the point that our guide was no longer ideologically religious and it was of no effect to help us in struggle, we had to say it clearly to all people even if it resulted in our losing of many facilities and separation of many members. 3
However, it does not mean that religion was incapable to offer solutions for the challenges of MKO. It is another issue and needs to be investigated in depth. As he says, the hypocrisy and duality of Mojahedin, their eclectic ideology, lack of knowledge on religious precepts and refraining to take a clear position in this regard resulted in the occurrence of schism. In fact, the twelve-point statement of Rajavi issued inside prison was a summary of his real intention and ideas. Shahsavandi, a member of MKO sentenced to death by the order of the Marxist wing’s central committee clarifies the effects of this statement in escalation of inter-organizational tensions and conflicts inside prison:
These twelve articles defined the identity of MKO to the point that members and sympathizers had to recognize it as the basics of their activities word by word with no addition or omission and to transfer it to other prisons and those active outside. 4
The significance of this statement lies in the fact that according to Shahsavandi, it had a decisive role in the future events like that of June 1981:
These twelve articles were in fact the manifesto of Mr. Rajavi against the Marxist drift inside organization. It was a manifesto that led to the revival and reorganization of MKO and worked as infrastructure of activities after the victory of Iranian revolution. 5
Also, he elaborates on the key role of Rajavi in the development of the statement:
The essence and core of this issue is related to Masoud Rajavi and it was mainly for this reason that he tried to stabilize his leadership and bring his role to light. 6
Reviewing the points of this statement and the mistakes made by Rajavi in this regard requires another discussion of its own.
1. Dr. Karim Rastegar’s interview with Cheshmandaz journal on the events of June 1981
3. Torab Haqshenas
4. Saeed Shahsavandi interview with the voice of Iran, part 38.
6. ibid, part 40.