Thousands Protest in Paris Against Iran An Iranian opposition group holds a mass rally in Paris on Saturday to demonstrate against the Islamist government in Tehran. Thousands of Iranian exiles turned out along with supporters from Europe, Asia and North America.
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Thousands Protest in Paris Against Iran

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Thousands Protest in Paris Against Iran

Thousands Protest in Paris Against Iran

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ANDREA SEABROOK, Host:

Eleanor Beardsley sends this report.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY: Iranian-American Ali Raza Jaffar Zadai(ph) says the recent British ruling makes this rally different than others.

M: The momentum has now shifted in favor of the Iranian resistance and the Iranian People's Mujahedeen Organization of Iran and against the Iranian regime. The resistance quickly emerged as this solution to the Iranian crisis.

BEARDSLEY: Lord Robin Corbett, one of the British parliamentarians who worked to remove the group's terrorist label, attended the rally.

M: The sole reason it was put onto that terrorist list was that the mullahs made it the price of opening talks of Britain and some other EU countries about their nuclear deceit. It's as simple as that.

BEARDSLEY: Critics of the group say it is also a cult and its members are brainwashed by a bizarre mix of Islam, Marxism and feminism espoused by husband-wife leaders, Massoud and Maryam Rajani. Those are all baseless rumors says Allah Istikar(ph), who fled Iran 20 years ago and now lives in France.

M: (Through translator) It's all the mullahs' propaganda and deals they made with the West to demonize us. Just like when Hitler called the resistance fighters terrorists.

BEARDSLEY: Critics also say the PMOI has very little support inside Iran or abroad. One can't help but wonder about the large number of non-Iranian faces at the demonstration. Some people say they were given a free trip to come. 20- year-old Shamez Vatamaborski(ph), who traveled with a group from Poland, admits that not everyone is here to support the Iranian democratic process.

M: Probably, some of the people came here because Paris is a very attractive place that we are having. So it's very nice city. And I'm sure there are some people who came here just to see Paris or...

BEARDSLEY: As PMOI leader Maryam Rajani prepares to speak, the crowd goes wild.

M: (Foreign language spoken)

BEARDSLEY: For NPR News, I'm Eleanor Beardsley in Paris.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

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