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Iranian opposition group rallies outside Paris against Teheran regime
07/01/2006
Mujahedeen says demonstration was against Islamic fundamentalism and political oppression.
Thousands of members of an exiled Iranian opposition group rallied Saturday outside Paris to voice concerns about Teheran's nuclear ambitions, with a banner reading "no to the atomic bomb." At the demonstration by the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the political arm of the People's Mujahedeen, balloons reading "no to war" and "no to appeasement" hung from the ceiling of a conference center in the suburb of Le Bourget. The Mujahedeen regard themselves as legitimate opposition to the hardline clerical regime in Teheran and claim that the European Union and the United States classify them as terrorists to appease the Iranian government. Many at the demonstration wore sashes that read "Viva Maryam," - a reference to Maryam Rajavi, co-leader of the group's political wing. She came to the rally in a Bentley, and trumpets announced her arrival. Up to 10,000 people attended. The group said it was also protesting against Islamic fundamentalism and political oppression, and for social freedoms in Iran. The group insists it is a peaceful umbrella movement of exiled Iranian opponents of the Islamic Republic based in Auvers-Sur-Oise, north of Paris. In 2003, French police carried out a sweep against the group and dozens of members were arrested, including Rajavi. That set off protests, with two Mujahedeen supporters burning themselves to death. Six others were injured after they set themselves on fire. Seventeen people, including Rajavi, were placed under investigation - a step short of being charged - on suspicion of associating with or financing terrorist groups. She was held about two weeks before being released. In June, the Paris Appeals Court lifted a series of restrictions against the 17 people, including one that forbade them from leaving French territory and another that prevented them from meeting with one another.
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