The People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) was founded on September 6, 1965, by Mohammad Hanifnejad, Said Mohsen, and Ali-Ashgar Badizadgan. All engineers, they had earlier been members of the Freedom Movement (also known as the Liberation Movement), created by Medhi Bazargan in May 1961.1
The Freedom Movement advocated the “democratic principles enshrined in the fundamental laws of the 1905-09 [Iranian] Constitution.” For two years, the group held meetings and was allowed to publish a newsletter, supporting "political freedom and the separations of power.”
Large demonstrations in Iran on June 5, 1963, erupted to protest the arrest of Ruhallah Khomeini, after he delivered an especially vitriolic speech attacking the monarchy. The Shah’s police responded with “massive fire power,” killing “thousands of people,” in what has become known as the June Uprising. The Liberation Movement supported the demonstrations and, as a result, it was outlawed, as well as other pro-democratic organizations, and Bazargan was sentenced to ten years in prison.
Two years later, the three young engineers came together to develop a new pathway to bring democracy and freedom to Iran. Replicating the actions of the Freedom Movement would lead only to the same disastrous end. Thus, a new strategy was necessary.
The three engineers formed a discussion group with twenty trusted friends and on September 20, 1965, they convened their first meeting. The members were mostly professionals living in Tehran. Twice a week they came together to discuss religion, history, philosophy, and revolutionary theory.
The PMOI's quest culminated in a true interpretation of Islam, which is inherently tolerant and democratic, and fully compatible with the values of modern-day civilization. It took six years for the organization to formulate its progressive view of Islam and develop a strategy to replace Iran's dictatorial monarchy with a democratic government.
The fundamentalist mullahs in Iran believe interpreting Islam is their exclusive domain. The PMOI reject this view and the cleric’s reactionary vision of Islam. The PMOI's comprehensive interpretation of Islam proved to be more persuasive, appealing, and successful than any attempt in the past.
1) Much of the information for this website is derived from "Enemies of the Ayatollahs," by Mohammad Mohaddessin, Zed Books, London, 2004.