The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI / MEK) was founded by Mohammad Hanifnejad, Said Mohsen, and Ali-Ashgar Badizadgan on September 6, 1965. MEK’S founders were all engineers who were former members of the Freedom Movement (also known as the Liberation Movement), created in May 1961 by Mehdi Bazargan.1
The Freedom Movement advocated for the “democratic principles enshrined in the fundamental laws of 1905-09 [Iranian] Constitution.” From its birth in 1961 until 1963, the Freedom Movement held meetings and was allowed to publish a newsletter that supported “political freedom and the separations of power.”
On June 5, 1963, large demonstrations took place in Iran to protest the arrest of Ruhollah Khomeini, who had delivered a scathing speech indicting the monarchy. The Shah’s police responded with “massive firepower,” killing “thousands of people,” in what has become known as the Shahrivar Uprising. Because of its support for the demonstrations, the Liberation Movement was banned. Other pro-democratic organizations were also banned. Bazargan was sentenced to ten years in prison.
The three young engineers realized that duplicating the actions of the Freedom Movement would lead to the same calamitous conclusion, so two years later they came together to develop a new blueprint for democracy and freedom to Iran.
The three engineers formed a discussion group with twenty trusted friends to develop a new strategy, convening their first meeting on September 20, 1965. Most of these group members were professionals living in Tehran, who met twice a week to discuss religion, history, philosophy, and revolutionary theory.
These early meetings of the MEK culminated in their interpretation of a true Islam: an inherently tolerant and democratic faith, which is fully compatible with the values of modern-day society. The MEK spent six years formulating its progressive view of Islam and developing a strategy to replace Iran’s dictatorial monarchy with a democratic government.
Iran’s fundamentalist mullahs believe that the interpretation of Islam is their exclusive domain. The MEK rejects this narrow view, along with the clerics’ reactionary vision of Islam. The comprehensive interpretation of Islam, as described by the MEK, proved to be more appealing, persuasive, and successful than any of the past attempts. The three engineers formed a discussion group with twenty trusted friends and on September 20, 1965, they convened their first meeting. The members were mostly professionals living in Tehran. Twice a week they came together to discuss religion, history, philosophy, and revolutionary theory.
The PMOI’s quest culminated in a true interpretation of Islam, which is inherently tolerant and democratic, and fully compatible with the values of modern-day civilization. It took six years for the organization to formulate its progressive view of Islam and develop a strategy to replace Iran’s dictatorial monarchy with a democratic government.
The fundamentalist mullahs in Iran believe interpreting Islam is their exclusive domain. The PMOI reject this view and the cleric’s reactionary vision of Islam. The PMOI’s comprehensive interpretation of Islam proved to be more persuasive, appealing, and successful than any attempt in the past.
1) Much of the information for this website is derived from “Enemies of the Ayatollahs,” by Mohammad Mohaddessin, Zed Books, London, 2004.