Cult of the Chameleon (2)

In 1981 Rajavi escaped to France. Soon after, the MEK began evolving into a cult. Rajavi declared that the organisation should be run equally by a man -himself - and a woman. The problem was Rajavi's wife had died fighting the Islamic government. He needed a new partner to join him at the top of the organisation. Rajavi's deputy Mehdi Abrishamchi voluntarily divorced his wife Maryam, so Rajavi could marry her. Massoud Rajavi's marriage was the beginning of a series of ideological and sexual revolutions…

Narrator: The MEK’s terror teams killed many officials as well as more than ten thousand innocent Iranians. In turn the Islamic government executed and tortured thousands of MEK members, and even those who only sympathised with Rajavi’s ideas. Majid Farahani was one of them. He was working as a trades union activist when he was arrested and sent to prison for four years.

 

At the same time in London Anne Singleton joined a group of Rajavi supporters on a hunger strike against Khomeini’s regime.

Anne Singleton: After about three or four days of hunger strike, I began to feel if as I was really on a different level to the rest of the world around me. It was almost as if when I walked down the street, I was walking at twice the speed of everyone else. I was having a really kind of spaced out experience. And I interpreted this - and I was encouraged to interpret this - as if I had kind of seen a hidden truth.And the truth was that by understanding the Mojahedin and understanding their leadership - the Rajavis - I had somehow transcended normal existence and that therefore I had made the grade.

 

Narrator: In 1981 Rajavi escaped to France. Soon after, the MEK began evolving into a cult. Rajavi declared that the organisation should be run equally by a man -himself - and a woman. The problem was Rajavi's wife had died fighting the Islamic government. He needed a new partner to join him at the top of the organisation. Rajavi's deputy Mehdi Abrishamchi voluntarily divorced his wife Maryam, so Rajavi could marry her.

Massoud Rajavi's marriage was the beginning of a series of ideological and sexual revolutions which he used to take over his followers’ lives.

 

Anne Singleton: They went beyond arranged marriages and actually ordered their members to divorce. This didn't just mean that if you are married - actually married to somebody - you must divorce them. It meant that if you weren't married you had to somehow mentally, emotionally divorce, to understand that you are divorced from your sexuality. And the demand was made - on the surface - it was justified by saying that you had to give all your energy and your time to the cause and not be distracted by your sexual feelings and your love for your wife or your husband.

 

Narrator: Anne's husband Massoud Khodabandeh was Rajavi's bodyguard for six years. He is one of the very few people who observed up-close the characteristics which make Rajavi a charismatic leader.

Massoud Khodabandeh (former MEK member): As someone who lived closely with Mr Rajavi for years, I can tell you that he is very intelligent and he is quite a charming man, but most importantly he is a hard worker. He spends a lot of time and energy on whatever he wants to do. He is really interested in psychology. There is no book on psychology that he has not read a few times. But he is a very lonely person. That might be because he is a ruthless leader who has killed or alienated many of his close friends and colleagues.

 

Narrator: In 1986 at the height of the Iran-Iraq war, the MEK moved to Iraq at the invitation of Saddam Hussein. Saddam was already responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of Iranian young men. To many Iranians who already hated the MEK for its campaign of terror, Rajavi's collaboration with Iraq was nothing short of treason.

 

Massoud Khodabandeh: Shortly after we went to Iraq, we became part of Saddam's Army. We collaborated very closely with the Iraqis. You may ask me now: “how you help the enemy of your country?” But it goes back to the nature of cults. Being part of a cult kills all kinds of emotions in you. A member becomes a tool in the hands of a cult. You don't care about your country, or even your mother and father anymore. We saw ourselves as saviours of humanity, so nationalism or other feelings were not important for us anymore.

 

Cult of the Chameleon (1)


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