Iran Focus: Rome, Jul. 24 – Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi received strong backing at the Italian Parliament on Wednesday, in a move which drew quick rebuke from Tehran. On the second day of her visit at the invitation of a number of members of the Italian Parliament and the Friends of a Free Iran group in that country, Rajavi addressed a meeting of dozens of parliamentarians.
Rome, Jul. 24 – Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi received strong backing at the Italian Parliament on Wednesday, in a move which drew quick rebuke from Tehran.
On the second day of her visit at the invitation of a number of members of the Italian Parliament and the Friends of a Free Iran group in that country, Rajavi addressed a meeting of dozens of parliamentarians.
Upon arrival at the Parliament building in Rome, Rajavi was greeted by hundreds of cheering supporters of the Iranian Resistance and several Italian Members of Parliament. Rajavi was the keynote speaker at the parliamentary meeting, in which a number of lawmakers also spoke, expressing the support of various Italian political parties for her movement. The speakers also condemned the policy of appeasing the regime and stated the hope that Rajavi's visit to Italy would mark the beginning to an end for the policy of appeasing Tehran and the start of a new policy to support the Iranian people's ideal for freedom.
Rajavi was presented with a document signed by a majority of Italian parliamentarians from across the political spectrum, in support of the cause of democratic change in Iran and calling for removing the terrorist label from the People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI), the main group within the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
The declaration by the Italian Parliamentarians said: "We ask the European Union and France, as the EU's rotating presidency to remove the terror label against the PMOI, which has already been annulled by the European Court of Justice and the UK court. The PMOI is the pivotal force within the Iranian opposition and is the antithesis to fundamentalism and the key to resolving the Iranian crisis and bringing stability to the region because of its vast popular support, it democratic platform and commitment to defending a democratic and tolerant Islam.
The opposition leader, who heads the clerical theocracy’s largest opposition coalition, the NCRI, told Italian lawmakers at the Chamber of Deputies that the European Union's current policy of "appeasement" toward Tehran is "getting nowhere". She said that nuclear negotiations between the world's major powers and Iran on 19 July in Geneva had failed, and that the "mullahs' regime" is working to develop nuclear weapons.
"Firmness in the correct policy in dealing with this regime. The choice of either appeasement or war is only a deception", Rajavi said. "There is a third option: democratic change in Iran by the Iranian people and their Resistance. This is the only way to avert a war". She added, "I urge the European Union and remove this label and no longer deprive the world from the most important lever for change in Iran and in the fight against fundamentalism."
The PMOI was banned in the United Kingdom by then-Home Secretary Jack Straw MP in 2001. The British ban was used as the basis of the group's inclusion in the EU blacklist in mid-2002, in what the 27-nation bloc's then-Spanish leadership called "a goodwill gesture to Tehran".
In December 2006, the Court of First Instance annulled the EU's decision to place the group on the list and described the freeze on its financial assets as "unlawful".
In June, the UK government removed the PMOI from its list of proscribed groups. The UK took the action following a decision in May by the country's Lord Chief Justice at the Court of Appeal describing the ban on the group as "perverse". British lawmakers voted unanimously in June to approve the order to lift the ban on the group.
Rajavi’s visit to the Italian Parliament was fiercely denounced by Tehran. Roberto Toscano, Italy’s ambassador to Tehran, was summoned to the Iranian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday in protest to Rajavi’s meeting with the Italian lawmakers.