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Maryam Rajavi

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Maryam Rajavi
NCRI President-elect Maryam Rajavi -Villepinte June 2012.jpg
Rajavi in a conference in Paris, France, in June 2012
Maryam Qajar-Azodanlu

(1953-12-04) 4 December 1953 (age 67)
OrganizationPeople's Mujahedin of Iran
(m. 1980; div. 1985)
(m. 1985)
Children1 daughter[2]
MEK positions
President-elect of the National Council of Resistance
Assumed office
22 October 1993[3]
Preceded byAbolhassan Banisadr[a]
Co–equal Leader of the People's Mujahedin of Iran
Assumed office
27 January 1985[5]
Serving with Massoud Rajavi (until 2003)[b]
Preceded byMassoud Rajavi (as leader)
Secretay-General of the People's Mujahedin of Iran
In office
8 October 1989 – 22 October 1993
Preceded byMassoud Rajavi
Succeeded byFahimeh Arvani
Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the National Liberation Army
In office
20 June 1987 – 22 October 1993

Maryam Rajavi (Persian: مریم رجوی‎, née Qajar-Azodanlu, Persian: مریم قجر عضدانلو‎) is the leader of the People's Mujahedin of Iran (MEK), an organization trying to overthrow the Iranian government, and President-elect of its National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). She is married to Massoud Rajavi, who is the co-leader of MEK.[7]

Early life and education

Rajavi was born Maryam Qajar-Azodanlu on 4 December 1953 in Tehran, Iran.[8] She was in a middle-class civil servant family descended from a member of the Qajar dynasty.[9] She attended the Sharif University of Technology in Iran, earning a B.S. in metallurgy.[8]

Political career

Maryam Rajavi at the Free Iran gathering in 2018

Rajavi has stated that her political activism began when she was twenty-two after her sister Narges was killed by SAVAK.[9] Then she became a member of the People's Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI/MEK), and began her political career. Rajavi served as deputy commander and MEK Secretary General until 1993. On 22 October 1993, the NCRI elected Rajavi to be "Iran’s interim President" if the NCRI were to assume power in Iran.[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.[8]

In 1982, Rajavi was transferred to Auvers-sur-Oise, Île-de-France where the political headquarters of the Mojahedin was located.[8]

In 1985, she became Joint-Leader of the PMOI and served as the Secretary General between 1989 and 1993.[11]

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."[12]

A 10-point manifesto published by 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 Charter of the United Nations.[13] The manifesto also contains the statement that "We recognize private property, private investment and the market economy."[14] In June 2020, a majority of members of the USA's House of Representatives backed a "bipartisan resolution" supporting Rajavi and the NCRI's "call for a secular, democratic Iran" while "condemning Iranian state-sponsored terrorism." The resolution, backed by 221 lawmakers (including Louie Gohmert and Sheila Jackson Lee), gave support to Rajavi's 10-point plan for Iran's future (which include "a universal right to vote, market economy, and a non-nuclear Iran") while calling on the prevention of "malign activities of the Iranian regime’s diplomatic missions."[15][16]

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.[17]

In October 2011, Theresa May banned Rajavi from coming to Britain in a trip where she was to "explain how women are mistreated in Iran". The high court then sued Theresa May, with Lord Carlile of Berriew (the Government's former independent reviewer of counter-terrorism laws) saying that May's decision "could be viewed as appeasing the Mullahs".[18][19] In 2014, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom dismissed an appeal from Lord Carlile of Berriew QC and others and upheld it to maintain the ban, which had originally being implemented in 1997. Members of the UK House of Lords argued that the Home Secretary was "violating Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention of Human Rights (the Convention)", saying that "Home Secretary’s reasons were legally irrelevant, because they depended on the potential reaction of a foreign state which did not share the values embodied in the Convention."[20][21] Rajavi is not excluded from any other European country and engages regularly with parliamentarians in the European Parliament.[22]

Maryam Rajavi publicly met with the President of the State of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas on 30 July 2016 in Paris, France.[23]

On April 2021, Maryam Rajavi endorsed resolution HR 118, which expresses “support for Iranian people’s desire for a democratic republic” and “condemns ‘violations of human rights and state-sponsored terrorism’ by Tehran”.[24][25]

Electoral history

Year Election (Constituency) Votes % Rank Result Ref
1980 Parliament (Tehran, Rey and Shemiranat) 221,831 10.4 67th Lost [26]



On 17 June 2003, Rajavi was arrested by Paris Police Prefecture alongside some 150 MEK members.[27][28] She and 23 other people were investigated over suspicion of links to terrorism.[29] Rajavi denied the charges, saying "the case was mounted to appease Iran."[30] All charges were later dropped.[31][29][32]


In July 2010, the Iraqi High Tribunal issued an arrest warrant for 39 MEK members, including Rajavi, "due to evidence that confirms they committed crimes against humanity" by "involvement with the former Iraqi security forces in suppressing the 1991 uprising against the former Iraqi regime and the killing of Iraqi citizens". 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".[33]


  • Great March towards Freedom[34]
  • No to Compulsory Religion, No to Compulsory Government Illustrated[35]
  • Women, Islam and Fundamentalism[36]
  • Iran Will Be Free[37]
  • Key to Countering Islamic Fundamentalism[38]

See also

Notes and references

  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.[4] 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.[6]
  1. ^ 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."
  2. ^ Geyer, Georgie Anne (26 August 1996), Iranian Exiles Have A Committed Leader In Maryam Rajavi, Chicago Tribune, retrieved 20 January 2020
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ Steven O'Hern (2012). Iran's Revolutionary Guard: The Threat That Grows While America Sleeps. Potomac Books, Inc. p. 208. ISBN 978-1597977012.
  6. ^ 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 978-0810863118.
  7. ^ "Profile: Maryam Rajavi". BBC News. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  8. ^ a b c d Sleeman, Elizabeth (2001), "RAJAVI, Maryam", The International Who's Who of Women 2002, Psychology Press, p. 464, ISBN 9781857431223
  9. ^ a b Smith, Craig S. (24 September 2005). "Exiled Iranians Try to Foment Revolution From France". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  10. ^ Katzman, Kenneth (2001). "Iran: The People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran". In Benliot, Albert V. (ed.). Iran: Outlaw, Outcast, Or Normal Country?. Nova. p. 97-98. ISBN 978-1-56072-954-9.
  11. ^ 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
  12. ^ Just because ISIS attacked Iran doesn't mean Iran isn't supporting terrorism. 12 June 2017. Retrieved 13 June 2017
  13. ^ Iran: Human Rights Debate in the UK House of Lords, House of Lord Hansard, 8 December 2016 UKOpenGovernmentLicence.svg This article contains quotations from this source, which is available under the Open Government Licence v3.0. © Crown copyright.
  14. ^ "Maryam Rajavi".
  15. ^ "Majority of House members back resolution supporting Iranian opposition, condemning regime's terror".
  16. ^ "'The world is watching': Lawmakers tout bipartisan resolution condemning Iran".
  17. ^ Human Rights in Iran, Debate in the UK House of Commons, House of Commons Hansard, 28 June 2016 UKOpenGovernmentLicence.svg This article contains quotations from this source, which is available under the Open Government Licence v3.0. © Crown copyright.
  18. ^ Muhanad Mohammed. "Iraqi court seeks arrest of Iranian exiles". The Times. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  19. ^ Muhanad Mohammed. "May 'is appeasing Iran' by blocking dissident's visit". The Standard. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  20. ^ Barakatt, Marina (25 November 2014). "U.K. Supreme Court Upholds Home Secretary's Decision to Prevent an Iranian Politician from Entering the U.K. (November 12, 2014)". The American Society of International Law. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  21. ^ "R (on the application of Lord Carlile of Berriew QC and others) (Appellants) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (Respondent) [2014] UKSC 60" (PDF). Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 November 2017. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  22. ^ "Parliamentarians lose Maryam Rajavi court battle". Hillingdon & Uxbridge Times. Hillingdon & Uxbridge Times. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  23. ^ Marian Houk (9 August 2016). "Why Abbas-MEK meeting made waves everywhere but Palestine". Al-Monitor. Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 5 December 2016.
  24. ^ "Congressional leaders urge Biden to take tough stand on Iran". Arab News.
  25. ^ "Lawmakers urge Biden to push Iranian regime on rights abuses, amid bipartisan support for resolution". Fox News.
  26. ^ "اسامی نامزدهای تهران که بیش از ۱۰ هزار رأی آوردهاند" [Names of Tehran candidates who gained more than 10,000 votes], Kayhan (in Persian) (10964), p. 3, 5 April 1980 [16 Farvardin 1359], 15m4471, archived from the original on 29 April 2019, retrieved 20 January 2020 – via The University of Manchester Library
  27. ^ Paris police target Iranian groups, BBC, 17 June 2003, retrieved 28 December 2016
  28. ^ Rajavi released on bail, Al Jazeera, 4 July 2003
  29. ^ a b France drops case against Iranian dissidents after 11-year probe, Reuters, 17 September 2014
  30. ^ France drops charges against Iran opposition group, Fox News
  31. ^ Jolly, David (12 May 2011), "France Will Drop Charges Against Iranian Dissidents", The New York Times
  32. ^ France Drops Case Against Iranian Dissidents, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 17 September 2014
  33. ^ Muhanad Mohammed (11 July 2010). Rania El Gamal; David Stamp (eds.). "Iraqi court seeks arrest of Iranian exiles". Reuters. Retrieved 28 December 2016. Rajavi’s wife Maryam, leader of the French-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the PMOI’s political wing, was also included in the warrant, Abdul Sahib added.
  34. ^ Rajavi, Maryam (20 March 2020). Great March Towards Freedom: Maryam Rajavi's Messages and Speeches to the Annual Gatherings of Iranian Resistance at Ashraf 3 - Albania July 2019. National Council of Resistance of Iran. ISBN 978-2-491615-01-7.
  35. ^ "No to Compulsory Veil: No to Compulsory Religion, No to Compulsory Government". NCRI. 16 October 2017. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
  36. ^ Maryam Rajavi. Women, Islam & Fundamentalism (pdf). Paris.
  37. ^ Rajavī, Maryam (18 September 2018). Iran Will Be Free: Speech by Maryam Rajavi. NCRI-US. ISBN 978-1-944942-21-2.
  38. ^ "Key to Countering Islamic Fundamentalism". NCRI. 24 July 2015. Retrieved 3 December 2020.

External links

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
Preceded by
Massoud Rajavi
Secretay-General of People's Mujahedin of Iran
Succeeded by
Fahimeh Arvani
New title Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the People's Mujahedin of Iran military wing