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17 June, an Autopsy of Violence and Terrorism

Maryam Rajavi’s arrest and imprisonment in France on 17 June 2003, not talking of its prejudicial impact to her political character, made Mojahedin face a new challenge. The challenge was the outcome of an encounter of Western democracy and civility vis-à-vis the dominant social anarchism and wild adventurism in Mojahedin organization that attempted to forge legitimacy by comparing itself to one of the most prime anti-fascism resistances in the Europe.

Maryam Rajavi’s arrest and its aftermath gave the states and the public opinion the opportunity to see behind the pseudo-democratic face of Mojahedin. Accused of terrorist activities, association with a terrorist organization and financing terrorist operations, the French Police raided the office of MKO at Auvers-sur-Oise and arrested 164 suspected Mojahedin cadres as well as Maryam Rajavi. Immediately after the arrests, a number of the group’s insiders immolated themselves in public in a series of premeditated missions as leverages of pressure to buy Maryam Rajavi’s freedom. The human tragedy ended with two deaths; according to the group’s own reports, two women, Sediqeh Mojaveri and Neda Hassani died because of the self-immolation injuries. One more was paralyzed forever.

These acts of self-destruction reveal the covert violent mien of the group’s ideology which is brought to surface and fully practiced whenever the circumstances deem it just. It is not wrong to say that the acts of self-immolations imposed Mojahedin’s demands on the French judges and courts to take a moderate position to stop further agitation of the public opinion.

Violence is rebuked for its transparent contradiction with social and conventional codes. Utilization of violence for whatever objectives never justifies it as a theorized instrument practiced by opportunists to accomplish the ends. The practitioners of violence, whether from a potential military standpoint or frustrated political stance, resort to what is most regarded a reactionary approach. Legalization of violence terminates the rational ways of furthering dialogue to a democratic solution and its utilization as leverage of pressure, a threatening method, and even as a moving element to stir sympathy never justifies its application.

Appalling, sect-like self-immolations once more endorsed Mojahedin’s restoring to complexities of a cult. The ideology does not necessarily suggest application of violence against others since teachings of some cult decree self-destruction practices as the most influential approach. Overt practices of violence against other individuals spread psychological terror among a society while acts of self-destruction, besides spreading psychological terror, endanger emotional and social health. In other words, when someone consents to commit self-destruction in so appalling a way, no doubt he is capable of wiping out masses in cool-blood.

There are many instances of known cult decreed self or collective destructions. So impressed are the insiders by the violent approaches of a cult that they may volunteer to commit suicide before they receive orders to do so. Following the same cult codes, Mojahedin owns a prearranged, deliberate list of registrants volunteered for self-immolation wherever and whenever the organization deems it appropriate. Alireza Jafarzadeh, a Mojahedin’s media spokesman, in a letter published in one of Mojahedin’s newsletters, prior to his demands to be registered as a volunteer of self-burning, stated:

Truly, the ignorant have not fully made out the sharpness, shrewdness and decisiveness of a Mojahed Khalq element more because they have failed to acknowledge Massoud. They are too narrow minded to know what a storm Rajavi’s order might give rise to, and that this generation’s will might leave them in a dark world of absolute desperation. [1]

His words indicate that he is fully under the influence of the group’s non-peaceful teachings as a strategic approach. He does believe in what he is saying and the history of the organization approves him.

Mojahedin’s past history contains a broad practice of violence against the agents of Shah’s regime and, furthermore, against the working Americans in Iran in 1970s to prove they were on a right path of struggle; it is an aspect of its utilizing violence against others. Later on, during the mass trials of the members arrested by Shah’s security system SAVAK, the arrested members decided to commit self-destruction to stir sympathy among people. To achieve the goal, they decided to take a harsh attitude in their speeches made at court defense sessions to incite the military judges to deal harshly with the defendants. Their tactic of self-destruction worked well and most of the leading figures but Massoud Rajavi were executed by the regime. Talking of the method of self-destruction at the time, Massoud Rajavi said:

We had to do our outmost to be executed by Shah. Then, our movement overpowered the proceedings. He [Shah] had to give an answer and we could not let him evade. [2]

First, by utilizing an armed struggle strategy and then by throwing themselves before the fire squads, Mojahedin furthered an overall method of violence. They were thoroughly devoted to a ferocious style of struggle against Shah and nothing but death could stop the move. Hanifnezhad, one of the first founders of Mojahedin, received a life imprisonment by the Shah’s court but his colleagues in prison coerced him, and even threatened him of being given an organizationally decreed revolutionary execution, to move on a self-destruction path so the organization could condemn the regime of his death. He was put before the fire squad, however.

Mojahedin can never think of peaceful ways when seeking for solution to an issue. In the course of Iran’s nuclear file, for instance, they resort to violent proposals or incite other parts to take a hostile attitude towards Iran. Violence is integrated in Mojahedin’s literature and it can be classified as:

– Transparent violence: armed struggle and terrorist operation.

– Advocating violence: inciting others to resort to violent ways to solve a problem.

– Provoking violence: coercing others to take violent reactions.

– Utilizing violence: self-destruction as a leverage of pressure or a moving element to stir sympathy.

The 17 June and its aftermath crystallize terrorism and violence in their full term. The case has to be studied in full details.


[1]. Alireza Jafarzadeh’ letter; Newsletter of the Union of the Muslim Student Associations Abroad, No. 127, 11.

[2]. The Founders, 96, Mojahedin Khalq publication.

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