Calls for an Iran without its current “dictatorial regime” were met with strengthened hope during the annual “free Iran” rally held in Paris this past weekend by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an exiled Paris-based Iranian opposition group allied with the Mujaheddin-e-Khalq (MEK).
The rally, which event organizers said saw more than 100,000 attendees, took place at the Villepinte Congress Center, outside of Paris on Saturday. A series of panel discussions ranging in topic from women’s rights to denuclearization took place on Friday.
Distinguished speakers at Saturday’s event included former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney; New Mexico’s former Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson; former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich; former Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-NJ); former FBI Director Louis Freeh; former Homeland Security Adviser Frances Townsend; and former U.S. Army chief of staff Gen. George Casey. Canada’s former Prime Minister Stephen Harper also delivered a speech advocating regime change in Iran.
Giuliani, who has attended many NCRI events, called for a boycott of countries that still conduct business with Iran until the current regime is eradicated:
I say to those countries that continue to support Iran, to those countries that do business with Iran, you are paying for a regime that deprives women of their rights, that deprives children of their rights, and that murders people because they practice a different religion. How can you do that? How much better are you than the terrorists when you are giving them money and propping up this regime? Women’s groups, in particular, all over the world, should demand that those businesses that continue to do business with this regime should be boycotted. And we should stop doing business with them:
During his speech, Giuliani also suggested the MEK as “an alternative” to Iran’s regime.
Of the NCRI’s President-elect Maryam Rajavi, he said:
How much better would [that] Iran be instead of the dictatorial, murderous, ayatollah as the face of Iran? Suppose the face of Iran was a brave woman in a country that recently has had a history, in a region of the world, of treating women inhumanely. And this brave woman will be the face of the new, modern, liberated Iran.
“When will it happen?” he continued. “Now. And next year at this time I want us to have this convention in Tehran.”
He said President Trump’s leadership had made it so that “we are now realistically being able to see an end to the regime in Iran.”
In her speech, Rajavi said, “Since the January uprising, the signs of change in Iran and the regime’s overthrow have appeared. The prospects for the victory of Iran’s democratic revolution, devoid of the mullahs and the shah are looming.” She added, “Through their uprisings and by relying on resistance units, the Iranian people have the leverage they need to topple this regime.”
Saturday’s rally coincided with a series of large street protests in Iran over the Islamic Republic’s dwindling economy and a plunge in the value of its currency, the rial. Several protests took place at Tehran’s Grand Bazaar last week but continued and became violent as the Iranian government’s forces opened fire on residents protesting in Khorramshahr over the lack of potable water in the city’s pipelines.
Iranian Arabs, a severely underserved portion of the Islamic Republic’s population, also participated in the protests. One Ahwazi protester was reportedly killed during protests in the city of Muhammarah, located in Khorramshahr. According to several sources, many of the Ahwazi protesters chanted against Iranian officials, saying, “If you are unable to solve our problems, you should go out.”
Former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich also presented at the annual event, saying, “We need to insist that [European governments] join the sanctions once again.”
The United States has threatened to sanction any country that does business with Iran as part of America’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, he argued. Gingrich added, “In the end, the only way to safety in the region is to replace the dictatorship with democracy, and that has to be our goal.”
“Freedom will come. It has been paid for by the blood and the sweat of patriates willing to stand to dictatorship. I look forward to the day that this meeting could be in Tehran in a free country,” Gingrich concluded:
In Paris almost 100,000 people gathered to demand the replacement of the Iranian dictatorship. The Free Iran rally was impressive and emotionally powerful. Leaders from all over the world came to Paris to demand freedom for the Iranian people.
— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) July 1, 2018
Iranian state media disparaged the gathering, calling it a “fiasco” and calling the NCRI and MEK a joint “terrorist group.” Neither is a U.S.-designated terrorist association:
FIASCO IN PARIS!
— Press TV (@PressTV) July 1, 2018