The Cult of Mojahedin; A Modern Cult of Personality – 3
The internal ideological revolution was the turning point that paved the way for the transformation of MKO to a cult of personality. Rajavi needed to construct a plot, regardless of the large cost, similar to that of the ideological drift in 1975 drafted by Taghi Shahram, who broke the seemingly Islamic ideology of the organization and officially announced it to be Marxism. Consequently, Shahram suppressed any protest and opposition and even plotted assassinations to liquidate opponents or as a method of silencing them.
Now ten years later, in 1985, Rajavi had faced a more complicated situation worse than before. The announced armed warfare with the heavy cost imposed both on regime and the organization had proved totally unproductive. Rajavi had come under harsh criticism and disapproval and blamed for his countless errors that had led to discredit what was being advertised as a revolutionary movement because of excessive use of unnecessary terror. And Rajavi was in urgent need of exploiting the intact huge potentiality of female insiders as motivators in inter-organizational relations and a prototype of a campaigning modern woman for tradition-bond Iranian women. The big change started itself with another error and scandal and the Rajavis, Massoud and Maryam, were the firsts to publicly break with Islamic and Iranian tradition; a wife’s infidelity misrepresented a sacred act and was considered as a turning point in the campaigns of the organization as well as a shocking strike against Islamic Republic regime! Any logical mind could anticipate what would be the outcome of a change started by challenging established traditions that Rajavi judged as impediments in the path of spurring innovations. MKO was the first in Iranian contemporary history to publicly legitimizing the unconventional remarriage of a woman immediately after her divorce.
Maryam was known to be the fruit of the so-called “ideological revolution” and who, consequently, paved the way for the other details of the revolution and was built a prototype for Iranian women. Mehdi Abrishamchi, a ranking aid to Rajavi and Maryam Rajavi’s late husband, was himself the one to make the first sacrifice for the revolution! and among the firsts to justify his wife’s divorce and her remarriage to Rajavi:
Maryam had to be either unquestionably promoted to a high status in the organization free from any [conjugal] obligation, just like Massoud, and be totally devoted to revolution or had to give it up. 1
According to Abrishamchi, since Maryam had to be promoted to a leadership status and every decision in the organization had to be made by Maryam and Massoud together, the matrimonial obligations and restrictions prevented Maryam to be in Massoud’s company all the time. She had to deny all her obligations and tear whatever bonded her except to Massoud and the revolution. As such, her divorce and remarriage before anything was instilled to be the accomplishment of a revolutionary obligation. Thus, the marriage was hailed as a great sacrifice made by Masoud and Maryam and all the members had to follow the steps to undertake their own revolution not in a similar line with the leaders but by identifying their personal shortcomings in later arranged self-criticism sessions. Immediately following the Rajavi’s marriage, the military command of the MKO issued a directive stating:
In order to carry out your organizational duties under the present circumstances, there is an urgent need to strengthen and deepen this ideological revolution. You must pay the necessary price by allocating sufficient time and resources for absorbing related teachings…Thus in your daily routines give priority to listening to radio messages and explanations provided by your commanders. Believe in the central committee’s proclamation that “this ideological revolution will enhance the Mojahedin’s capacities enormously; it will ever more unify and cleanse our ranks.”…Be certain that your deep belief in the novel leadership of the new democratic revolution of the heroic Iranian people, meaning Masoud and Maryam Rajavi, and by making a direct connection with this leadership and setting it as your example….you will be able to correct your work habits and be able to deal with and resolve personal, organizational, and military difficulties. 2
It was followed by another directive issued by the Social Division commanding the members to prove their revolutionary obedience by submitting to the initiated self-criticism tradition within the organization:
To understand this great revolution…is to understand and gain a deep insight into the greatness of our new leadership, meaning the leadership of Masoud and Maryam. It is to believe in them as well as to show ideological and revolutionary obedience of them…By correcting your old work habits and by criticizing your individual as well as collective shortcomings, we shall gain much awareness in confronting our enemies…Report to your commanders and superiors in a comprehensive manner your progress, its results and outcomes that you gain from promoting and strengthening this ideological revolution. 3
Consequently, protests were aborted and a cult of personality was provided for the leader and his wife to the sanctuary of where nobody was permitted either to enter or violate it. The experience taught Rajavi to apply this tactic to remove any obstacle and save the organization and him when facing a challenge. His Machiavellian inclinations and his seizing any opportunity to achieve his goals made the impossible possible for him. The members` crushed identity had made them undergo an amazing metamorphosis to follow the orders. The exploited coercive mental and physical approaches against the insiders developed into a counteraction against the ever-increasing criticisms and protests.
According to many MKO’s ex-members, in this phase, under the pretext of security considerations, many dissident members and critics were either imprisoned or killed suspiciously and the first consequences of settlement in Iraq was establishing prisons and exercising mental and physical pressures on prisoners. The worst was despicable justification by zealous devotees of Rajavies for such maltreatment and offenses which they called the inevitable consequence of the ideological revolution which they believed to be necessary for assessing the loyalty of members to leadership. In their opinion, themselves enjoying the abundant luxury of the post-revolution, blind obedience and submission to imprisonment, as well as suffering physical and mental tortures were indications of expressing absolute devotion and loyalty to the leadership.
1. The delivered lecture by Mehdi Abrishamchi on the internal ideological revolution within MKO, .
2. Mojahed, No. 241, April 4, 1985.
3. Mojahed, No. 242, April 12, 1985.