PARIS: Tens of thousands of Iranians gathered in the giant auditorium in Villepente Exhibition Center, near Paris, on Saturday in a massive expression of support urging the world to adopt a firm approach toward the theocratic regime in Iran.
The gathering featured a large and varied selection of speakers from all over the world and across the political spectrum, including Saudi Prince Turki Al-Faisal and a large delegation from the Syrian opposition.
Addressing the conference, Prince Turki Al-Faisal called for Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iranian officials to be brought to justice for their “crimes against the Iranian people,” who he described as the “first victims” of the Iranian regime.
He said he was “honored” to be at the event, which was attended by thousands of people who fled “their country because of the dictatorship of the Mullahs’ regime.”
Prince Turki explained that what made Arabs and Iranians brothers, was “not only geography, but the humanitarian relationships.”
“There are Arab tribes that lived in Iran and became families, and there are a lot of Persian families who came (to Saudi Arabia) to perform their pilgrimage and also became our families.”
He said all at the conference “stood together” as they shared a “mutual history” that helped the development of human civilization.
“All the (Gulf Cooperation Council) GCC countries and their neighbor Iran have always been living in harmony until the Khomeini revolution came into being in 1979,” Prince Turki added.
He said there was an “external strategy… to replace the concept of stability with the concept of coup and conflict.”
The rally focused on the prospects for democratic change in Iran and condemned the regime’s repression of human rights and record for regional intervention.
Speakers also voiced their support for change and solidarity with the Iranian opposition with the rallying cry of “free Iran.”
The gathering, held annually near Paris, typically draws hundreds of prominent figures from all over the world, and was an impressive display of the political muscle of Iran’s principle opposition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
The rally captured the growing momentum for change regarding Iran, including changes in policies and attitudes in the Middle East and Washington, and the prospect for a new approach toward the regime in the Islamic Republic.
The array of speakers, which included several prominent Americans, including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and former US Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, as well as Congressmen Ted Poe, expressed hope that the changes taking place in the international community would culminate in a new approach toward Iran and a strategic partnership with the Iranian opposition.
Giuliani said he hoped the new US administration would take steps to “not only implement a new approach toward the regime in Iran, but to embrace the Iranian opposition in tackling a common problem.”
Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), struck a hopeful note for democratic change, stating: “The ruling regime is in disarray and paralyzed as never before. Iranian society is simmering with discontent and the international community is finally getting closer to the reality that appeasing the ruling theocracy is misguided.”
Rajavi highlighted the plight of Iran’s population under the current regime, and commended Iran’s political prisoners for supporting the gathering “from the depths of the regime’s torture chambers.”
“The sun of change is shining on Iran,” she added, to an enthusiastic crowd of thousands cheering “We are ready.”
Rajavi added that the international community must “recognize the resistance of the Iranian people to overthrow the mullahs’ religious dictatorship and designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization and evict it from the entire region.”
Gingrich praised the Iranian opposition as not only a just and pure movement, praising the leadership of Maryam Rajavi adding: “She is persistent in difficult times. She is a great leader.
I thank each of you on her behalf to help her make her a truly historic figure. Our people want a constitution based on freedom, democracy, and equality.”
The rally offered a clear vision of what change in Iran could look like, and the broad base from all over the world to make this vision come true.
Given the current political climate and the potential for change within the region, the prospect for a new Iran, and free Iran may be closer than ever.