The People's Mojahiden Organization of Iran (MEK) is an Iranian political-militant organisation which advocates in favour of the overthrow of Iran’s current government. The MEK — also known as the PMOI or MKO — wishes to install its own government guided by its revolutionary interpretation of Islam; an interpretation which does not align with the conservative Islam of the traditional clergy.
The MEK is Iran's largest and most influential political opposition. It was founded in September 1964 by leftist Iranian students which were involved in the Freedom Movement of Iran — a movement opposing the US-backed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The MEK entered armed confrontation with the Pahlavi dynasty in the 1970s and was one of the mort active contributors to the overthrow of the Shah during the Iranian Revolution.
Ideologically, the MEK pursues the establishment of a democracy in Iran and gains popularity by primarily appealing to the Iranian middle class. In 1981, Iranian authorities banned the MEK and started a major suppression campaign against the group's members as well as its supporters and followers. This has since caused the MEK to become an underground rebel organisation. For instance, the MEK’s orchestration of the June 1981 Iranian protests were followed by the government’s arrest and execution of numerous MEK protestors and sympathisers.
The MEK conducted numerous attacks in Iran in retaliation to what they viewed as a breach of civil and human rights by the Iranian regime. These attacks classified the group as a terror organisation in the eyes of the EU, the US, Canada, and Japan. In 2003, the MEK signed a ceasefire with the US, gave up its arms, and became a major source for claims and information about Iran’s nuclear program. This has made the aforementioned parties remove the terrorist classification from the MEK after 2009. Contemporarily, only Iraq and Iran classify the MEK as a terror organisation.
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