BY – Dr. Majid Rafizadeh 05/16/2017
Iran’s presidential election will be held on Friday May 19. In the run-up to the Iranian government presidential election, many people across the country are calling to boycott the elections. The activists of the network of the Iranian opposition movement, the National Council of Resistance of Iran and its group the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), inside Iran have been engaged in an extensive campaign nationwide, calling on Iranians to boycott the elections.
Their activities involved hanging huge portraits of the Iranian opposition leader, Maryam Rajavi from overpasses or bridges in major freeways in Tehran and other cities, posting her pictures on walls in different streets and other public locations, such as in the bazaar or outside the paramilitary Bassji headquarters, or placing them on the windshields of cars, and distributing flyers and T-shirts with the MEK emblem and calling for government change.
According to NCRI activists and video clips from Iran, the pictures were accompanied by slogans such as “no to murderer Ebrahim Raisi, no to imposter Hassan Rouhani, Our vote: Regime overthrow”, “My vote: Maryam Rajavi” “Down with the clerical regime, Down with Khamenei, Hail to Rajavi”.
According to the activists, the nationwide activities were carried out in such cities as Tehran, Tabriz, Orumiyeh, Zanjan (northwest); Mashhad and Birjand (northeast); Karaj, Qazvin, Hemedan, Kermanshah, and Sanandaj (west); Isfahan, Qom, Arak, Broujen, Yasooj, Rafsanjan, and Yazd (central Iran); Babol and Sari (north), Shiraz, Bandar Abbas, Boushehr, Iranshahr, and Pasargad [where tomb of Cyrus the Great is located] (south).
The activities of these activists are very risky and requires a lot of courage to undertake. The Islamic Republic reacted to these activities.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) has shed light on Iran’s Presidential elections in its book “Presidential Elections in Iran: Changing Faces, Status Que Politics”.
Piytakht (Capital) Magazine in Iran wrote a response. The translation of the following writing says: “The blindhearted MEK waiting in the wings. Beware!. Posting Maryam Rajavi’s poster under the Sattar Khan Bridge in Tehran today.”
“Elections in this illegitimate regime are neither free nor fair. This sham is an attempt to put a 21st century veneer on a medieval regime, all of whose factions pursue the same policies vis-à-vis suppression at home, export of terror abroad, the nuclear weapons program, and pilfering of the Iranian nation’s wealth.” said Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran.
She added “Why should the Iranian people jump from the frying pan into the fire? The people of Iran reject the turban, whether it is white or black. No solution exists within the ruling religious dictatorship. The velayat-e faqih regime must be overthrown in its entirety. Because of the Iranian people’s burning desire for freedom and their readiness to fight on, the overthrow of the religious dictatorship is possible and within reach.”
Finally, from my perspective, it is critical to point out that Iranian leaders fear the soft power of oppositional groups more than the military and hard power of foreign governments. That is why Iranian leaders and media outlets normally react forcefully and anxiously to activities by the opposition such as the recent critical move, where Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, recently met with Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in Tirana, Albania. Iran’s oppositional groups can be a very powerful tool to counterbalance the Islamic Republic.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh President of the International American Council and board member of the US-Middle East Chamber of Business and Commerce and Harvard IR.