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Mike Pence backs fringe splinter group to rule Iran, calling group leader who bars members from having sexual thoughts “inspirational”

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Mike Pence backs fringe splinter group to rule Iran, calling group leader who bars members from having sexual thoughts “inspirational”

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Former Vice President Mike Pence and Mujahedeen Leader Khalq Maryam Rajavi. Attila Kisbenedek and Siavosh Hosseini / Getty Images

  • Mike Pence backed the MEK, a fringe Iranian splinter group with little support in Iran.

  • The group forbids members to think of sexual thoughts, seeing them as a distraction from their goals.

  • Rudy Giuliani, John Bolton and Mike Pompeo also supported the group.

Former Vice President Mike Pence offered his support Thursday to a fringe Iranian dissident group seeking to overthrow the Iranian government, calling longtime leader Maryam Rajavi “inspiration to the world.”

Pence, along with former Sen. Joe Lieberman, spoke at the 2021 Free Iran Summit in Washington, DC, a conference hosted by an organization affiliated with the People’s Mojahedin (MEK), which maintains a secret complex in Albania.

“One of the biggest lies the ruling regime has sold to the world is that there is no alternative to the status quo,” Pence said, referring to Iran’s theocratic government, where an ayatollah exercises power. supreme power and influences that may seek elected office. “But there is an alternative, a well organized, fully prepared, fully qualified and popularly supported alternative called MEK.”

The hall then erupted into cheers, with members of the audience chanting the phrase “MEK” repeatedly.

“The PMOI is committed to democracy, human rights and freedom for every Iranian citizen. And she’s run by an amazing woman. Ms. Rajavi is an inspiration to the world, ”said Pence.

The former vice president criticized the Biden administration for “joining” the JCPOA, or the Iran nuclear deal, which the Trump administration withdrew from the United States in 2018. Negotiations between the United States and Iran on relaunching the nuclear deal remain at a standstill.

Pence also said Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi should be removed from office by the Iranian people and “prosecuted for crimes against humanity and genocide”, referring to Raisi’s involvement in the execution of thousands of political prisoners. in 1988.

A secret group that forbids sexual thoughts

Maryam Rajavi has led the mysterious group since the group’s previous leader, Rajavi’s husband Massoud, disappeared during the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, where the group was previously headquartered.

The group was removed from the list of terrorist groups by the United States in 2012 after a lobbying campaign, despite the murder of American citizens in Iran.

The MEK has been called a “cult-like group” and does not appear to have significant support in the country it aims to lead. This is because the MEK was protected for 20 years by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein – who waged a brutal 8-year war against Iran – and allegedly collaborated with Israel to kill Iranian nuclear scientists and received funding. of Iran’s main regional enemy, Saudi Arabia.

The New York Times and the BBC report that the group prohibits members from thinking about sexual thoughts, participating in “rituals of self-criticism” and recording those thoughts in a notebook.

“We had a little notebook, and if we had sex moments, we had to write them down. For example, ‘Today in the morning I had an erection,'” a former member of the group told the BBC .

“You can’t have a personal life when you’re fighting for a cause,” a current member told The Times.

The MEK is also well funded, paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to U.S. politicians like former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani to speak at their events. And prominent Trump administration officials, including former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former National Security Advisor John Bolton, have also spoken at MEK events or endorsed the group.

It is not known if Pence was paid to speak to the group, and a spokesperson for Pence did not respond to a request for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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