A few years ago, one of the producers of CBS's 60 Minutes asked me to arrange for the networks interview with Maryam Rajavi, a leader of Iran's Mujahidin Khalq Organization (MKO). I told him then that I thought it was not possible to do this, to which he replied, "If the interview is going to be with a non-Iranian network, the response will certainly be different."
I then recruited the assistance of a person affiliated with the MKO. A few days later he provided me with an email address to contact. When I did, I was given a telephone number to contact, which in all honesty made me feel embarrassed for my initial assumption which was based on hear say. Subsequent events however proved me right.
When I made the first call, I was given another telephone number to call. This was repeated several times in the course of a few months that followed, until the American producer called me and said the issue was over and that there was no need to follow-up.
I concluded that 60 Minutes must have decided to call off the pursuit because of how long it had taken to arrange for the interview. He surprised me when he said that a representative of the MKO had made arrangements with the program's senior producer and had made a condition for the interview and had written up the questions to be asked....
This was pathetic, something that still continues.
These days, as media reports on MKO's efforts to be delisted from the US State Department's terrorist list, reactions and responses have been published too which speak of a contradiction of this possibility with supporting the Iranian drive and movement for freedom and rights. So as a journalist, I once again see it as my duty to request for an interview with Maryam Rajavi to get responses to some basic questions. Here are some:
• In the first years of the 1979 revolution, young members of the MKO had instructions not to engage with members and affiliates of other political groups. Was this true and is there a similar policy today?
• If delisted, does the MKO plan to change its structure and make it similar to other political organizations and be subject to the regulations governing such parties?
• Does the MKO see itself responsible to respond to questions such as its cooperation with Saddam Hossein in attacking and invading Iran?
• Under what strategy and goal were inexperienced youth asked to respond to the Mersad Operation inside Iran?
• Is internal criticism allowed within MKO and can it be reflected outside the organization?
• Is it true that some MKO members have left the organization on the basis of such instructions by the group to take up the responsibility of attacking other opponents of the Islamic republic?
• On what perspective does the MKO pursue the policy of attacking Khatami (carried out since 1997) and Mousavi and Karoubi (since 2009) while at the same time claiming to be supporting the Green Movement?
• From where does the belief "Stay away from the Mujahidin, they are dangerous" come? Is there a consequence on criticizing the MKO? Even asking questions?
As a journalist, I would like to have answers to these questions. Others however tell me otherwise.
- Don't write, they are dangerous. Instead of a response, you and your family will be attacked with insults. They will present you to be in cahoots with Khamenei, you will be presented as an agent.
They tell me:
- When a young web blogger wrote a few lines in criticism of Mrs. Rajavi, he was attacked in such a manner that his mother, herself a former member of the MKO in Tehran, warned him to stay away from the group as its members were "notorious."
There is more they tell me.
Yet, I have written my questions to Mrs. Rajavi to see whether we all change in time or...