Michael Rubin explained why the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK) is the least popular group within Iran and among Iranians and how their opposition to Iran by no means endorses their popularity.
According to Habilian, Michael Rubin, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, mentioned in his piece published on the Institute’s website the reasons why the MEK has no social support and popularity in Iran.
Citing the MEK’s history in terrorism as one reason of unpopularity, Rubin drew upon the fact that the group assassinated American citizens including military officers and businessmen prior to the Islamic Revolution, and a number of Iranian officials and civilians due to their failure in gaining power after the revolution.
He also called this group traitorous in that they sided with the former Iraqi dictator Saddam to attack the entirety of their country, Iran, and to help with the annexation of Iran’s oil-rich Khuzistan province.
Regarding the eclectic ideology of the group, Rubin said, “The MEK may speak about democracy, but its commitment is superficial. Rather, the group’s ideology centers upon a bizarre mixture of Marxism and Islamism.”
Another reason for the group’s unpopularity, according to this senior analyst, is its cult-like behavior. He mentions disappearance of Massoud Rajavi, husband of the group’s current leader Maryam Rajavi, who experienced a forced divorce and re-marriage, as an example of the cultic nature of the group. He warned that, ”the group’s cult-like behavior should raise alarm bells in Washington, London, and Brussels”.
Furthermore, he referred to isolation of members from competing narratives, arguments and the real word as a basic practice in all cults citing the MEK’s imposition of severe isolation upon its members formerly in Camp Ashraf and now in Albania, US, and Canada. For instance, MEK members are allowed to read contents only published by the MEK itself and are banned from making contact with Iranian diaspora.
Regarding separation of children from their parents in the MEK as well as the group’s financial fraud, Rubin said, “The MEK would regularly separate children from their parents and force children into group homes. Brainwashed, the group would then recruit the children and impress them into its military operations. A German High Court found that, prior to the 2003 Iraq War, the MEK siphoned off social welfare benefits its group homes and foster parents claimed on behalf of MEK children. When MEK children approach adulthood, the MEK arranges marriages.”
Social isolation is not only limited to adult members of the MEK, but MEK children are brought up in an isolated environment in such a way that they are only permitted to play with MEK neighbors and only attend schools run by the organizations itself, said the senior analyst.
He finally stated that since Rajavi is irrelevant to Iran today, western officials’ taking huge honoraria for a speech in MEK gatherings in fact amplifies the MEK, which in turn leads to bringing Iranian people together in their opposition to the group.