Maryam Rajavi

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Maryam Rajavi
President of the National Council of Resistance[1]
Assumed office
22 October 1993[1]
Preceded byAbolhassan Banisadr[a][dead link]
Co–equal Leader of the People's Mojahedin Organization[3]
Assumed office
27 January 1985[3]
Serving with Massoud Rajavi[b]
Personal details
Maryam Qajar-Azodanlu

(1953-12-04) 4 December 1953 (age 65)[5]
Tehran, Iran
Political partyPeople's Mojahedin Organization of Iran
ChildrenMostafa (b. 1980)
Ashraf (b. 1982)[5]

Maryam Rajavi (Persian: مریم رجوی‎, née Qajar-Azodanlu, Persian: قجر عضدانلو‎) is the leader of the People's Mujahedin of Iran, an organization trying to overthrow the Iranian government. Rajavi is also the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), based since 1993. She is the wife of Massoud Rajavi.[7]

Early life and education[edit]

Rajavi was born on 4 December 1953 in Tehran.[5][self-published source?] She was raised there as the daughter of a middle-class civil servant descended from a member of the Qajar dynasty.[8] She attended the Sharif University of Technology in Iran, earning a B.S. in metallurgy.[9]

Political career[edit]

Rajavi has stated that her political activism started when she was twenty-two after her sister Narges was killed by Shah Mohammad Reza's secret police.[8] Then she became a member of the People's Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI/MEK), and began her political career. She was inducted by Massoud Rajavi, into his command structure, as part of the Operation Eternal Light, which had more women than men, justifying it as a constitutional revolution.[10]

Rajavi served as an organizer of the anti-Shah student movement in the 1970s. In 1979, she became an official of the social section of the PMOI/MEK, where she served until 1981. Rajavi was a parliamentary candidate in 1980.[11][better source needed] In 1985, she became Joint-Leader of the PMOI and served as the Secretary General between 1989 and 1993.[12]

In 1982, Rajavi was transferred to Paris, where the political headquarters of the Mojahedin was located. The Mojahedin was the principal opposition to the Iranian regime at that time.[13][self-published source?]

In 2003, Rajavi's offices were raided by French police. She was placed under arrest and the assets of the NCRI were frozen by the French government. Rajavi's supporters protested her arrest by demonstration until her release. Three of the protesters set themselves on fire in Paris.[14][15]

The supreme court of the United Kingdom reiterated Rajavi's travel ban (originally put in place in 1997) on 12 November 2014. Rajavi is not excluded from any other European country and engages regularly with parliamentarians in the European Parliament.[16]

In a statement that condemned the ISIS attacks against Iran's parliament and the tomb of the Islamic Republic's founder, Rajavi stated: "ISIS's conduct clearly benefits the Iranian regime's Supreme Leader Khamenei, who wholeheartedly welcomes it as an opportunity to overcome his regime's regional and international impasse and isolation. The founder and the number one state sponsor of terror is thus trying to switch the place of murderer and the victim and portray the central banker of terrorism as a victim."[17]

A 10-point manifesto published by Maryam Rajavi sets out a programme to transform Iran. She states her commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to other international instruments. She calls for the abolition of the death penalty, the creation of a modern legal system and the independence of judges. Rajavi would end Tehran’s funding of Hamas, Hezbollah and other militant groups and is committed to peaceful coexistence, relations with all countries and respect for the United Nations charter.[18] The manifesto also contains the statement that 'We recognize private property, private investment and the market economy.'[19].

Rajavi presented her plan at the Council of Europe in 2006, which supports complete gender equality in political and social rights and, specifically, a commitment to equal participation of women in political leadership. Her 10-point plan for the future of Iran stipulates that any form of discrimination against women would be abolished and that women would enjoy the right to choose their clothing freely. It also includes the ending of cruel and degrading punishments.[20]



In 2003, she was arrested by Paris Police Prefecture alongside some 150 MEK members for "preparing to commit or finance acts of terrorism".[21] After questioning, most of those detained were released.[22] Twenty-four sympathizers of the MEK were placed under investigation, including Maryam Rajavi for allegedly "associating with wrongdoers in relation with a terrorist undertaking".

The arrests and detention of Rajavi set off protests in France and other European countries. The NCRI denied the charges and “accused Paris of arresting its followers to please the Iranian government.” In 2011, courts found that there were no grounds for terrorism or terrorism-related finance charges and fully exonerated the group.[23][24] In 2014, prosecuting judges also dropped all charges of money laundering and fraud.[25]


In July 2010, an Iraqi court ordered the arrest of 39 MEK members, including Maryam Rajavi. The court accused the group of helping Saddam Hussein counter a revolt by Shi’ites and ethnic Kurds. The MEK have denied the charges, saying that they constitute a “politically motivated decision and it’s the last gift presented from the government of Nuri al-Maliki to the Iranian government”.[26]

See Also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Banisadr who was affiliated with the National Council of Resistance of Iran from 1981 to 1984, was considered as the "President of Iran" in the claimed government by the council.[2] The office was vacant after Banisadr.
  2. ^ Since 2003 Massoud Rajavi has disappeared and leadership of the group has practically passed to his wife Maryam Rajavi.[4]
  1. ^ a b Kenneth Katzman (2001). "Iran: The People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran". In Albert V. Benliot (ed.). Iran: Outlaw, Outcast, Or Normal Country?. Nova Publishers. p. 97. ISBN 1560729546.
  2. ^ Kian Parsa (July 2008) [Tir 1387]. "شورای ملی مقاومت، بنی‌صدر و رجوی، از ائتلاف تا جدایی". Shahrvand Magazine (in Persian) (52). Archived from the original on 3 October 2013.
  3. ^ a b Steven O'Hern (2012). Iran's Revolutionary Guard: The Threat That Grows While America Sleeps. Potomac Books, Inc. p. 208. ISBN 1597977012.
  4. ^ Stephen Sloan; Sean K. Anderson (2009). Historical Dictionary of Terrorism. Historical Dictionaries of War, Revolution, and Civil Unrest (3 ed.). Scarecrow Press. p. 454. ISBN 0810863111.
  5. ^ a b c "Maryam". Archived from the original on 25 October 2011. Retrieved 7 November 2013.
  6. ^ a b Connie Bruck (2006). "Exiles: How Iran's expatriates are gaming the nuclear threat". The New Yorker. F-R Publishing Corporation. 82 (1–11): 54–55. This transition was epitomized by Rajavi's involvement, in 1985, with Maryam Azodanlu. Maryam was already married, to Mehdi Abrishamchi, one of Rajavi's close associates. Rajavi overcame that fact by making the romance a matter of revolutionary necessity. First, he said that he was making Maryam his co-leader-and that it would transform thinking about the role of women throughout the Muslim world. Then, about a month later, it was announced that Maryam was divorced from Abrishamchi and that the two co-leaders would marry, in order to further the "ideological revolution."
  7. ^ "Profile: Maryam Rajavi". BBC News. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  8. ^ a b Smith, Craig S. (24 September 2005). "Exiled Iranians Try to Foment Revolution From France". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  9. ^ "Maryam Rajavi". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
  10. ^ The Cult of Rajavi
  11. ^ Bloomfield Jr., Lincoln (December 2011). "Camp Ashraf: Iraqi Obligations and State Department Accountability" (PDF). House Committee On Foreign Affairs. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 January 2013. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  12. ^ Cohen, Ronen (2009), The Rise and Fall of the Mojahedin Khalq, 1987-1997: Their Survival After the Islamic Revolution and Resistance to the Islamic Republic of Iran, Sussex Academic Press, p. 12, ISBN 978-1-84519-270-9
  13. ^ "A Brief Biography of Maryam Rajavi". Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  14. ^ "Iranian fire protests at Paris arrests". 18 June 2003. Retrieved 13 January 2019.
  15. ^ Graff, James (14 December 2006). "Iran's Armed Opposition Wins a Battle — In Court". Time Magazine.
  16. ^ "Parliamentarians lose Maryam Rajavi court battle". Hillingdon & Uxbridge Times. Hillingdon & Uxbridge Times. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  17. ^ Just because ISIS attacked Iran doesn't mean Iran isn't supporting terrorism. June 12, 2017. Retrieved June 13, 2017
  18. ^ Iran: Human Rights Debate in the UK House of Lords, House of Lord Hansard, December 08, 2016 UKOpenGovernmentLicence.svg This article contains quotations from this source, which is available under the Open Government Licence v3.0. © Crown copyright.
  19. ^
  20. ^ Human Rights in Iran, Debate in the UK House of Commons, House of Commons Hansard, June 28, 2016 UKOpenGovernmentLicence.svg This article contains quotations from this source, which is available under the Open Government Licence v3.0. © Crown copyright.
  21. ^ "Paris police target Iranian groups". BBC. 17 June 2003. Retrieved 28 December 2016.
  22. ^ "France drops charges against Iran opposition group". Fox News.
  23. ^ "France Will Drop Charges Against Iranian Dissidents". NY Times. 12 May 2011.
  24. ^ Lincoln P. Bloomfield Jr. (2013). Mujahedin-E Khalq (MEK) Shackled by a Twisted History. University of Baltimore College of Public Affairs. p. 43. ISBN 978-0615783840.
  25. ^ "France drops case against Iranian dissidents after 11-year probe". Reuters. 17 September 2014.
  26. ^ Muhanad Mohammed (11 July 2010). Rania El Gamal; David Stamp (ed.). "Iraqi court seeks arrest of Iranian exiles". Reuters. Retrieved 28 December 2016.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Massoud Rajavi
as Leader of People's Mujahedin of Iran
Co-leader of People's Mujahedin of Iran
Served alongside: Massoud Rajavi
Title last held by
Abolhassan Banisadr
as President of Iran in pretence
President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran
New title Secretay-General of People's Mujahedin of Iran
Succeeded by
Fahimeh Arvani