Former Columbian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, famous for being kidnapped by the FARC rebels for 6.5 years, recently visited Albania to participate in a gathering marking International Women’s Day. Being a renowned international figure, she is based in France and has been supporting the Iranian people’s resistance movement and the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) since 2009.
Albanian national VisionPlus TV interviewed her about why she is supporting the Iranian people’s resistance for freedom. Betancourt explained how she was first faced with a wave of negative propaganda from MEK’s enemies. However, she came to find the MEK as devoted Muslims struggling against the ayatollahs’ regime to reach democracy and gender equality. Betancourt emphasized on her support for the MEK in this interview:
What motivated you to become an active support for the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI)?
Terrorism is the main element that concerns me today. I was a victim of terrorism and I know its actions. The MEK that you generously welcomed and are immigrants in your country, were persecuted by the Iranian regime. The current regime in Iran is a state supporter of terrorism across the globe.
When a bomb attack takes place in Europe or other countries, the terrorists that carry out such actions are directed by the ayatollahs’ regime. Why? Because they represent an interpretation and a method of Islam that is used as a lever for terrorism. Their propaganda is based on publicizing a belief in God without tolerance of political power and lacking gender equality. All these elements are threats for democracy.
When I see the MEK who fight against the ayatollahs in their country and thousands of them have been killed in the most horrific ways, or the execution of mothers, old men, kids aged 11 or 12, all for political reasons, this has to stop… They are fighting to establish a secular government, such as what we see in Albania.
You are a community comprised of a majority of Muslims, and yet you are a secular state. You are noted faced with fundamentalism here. People have respect for each other, there is gender equality and democracy here. This is exactly what we are looking to achieve. This is why we support them, and me personally, not only do I support them, but I am also grateful for Albania’s role.
Please explain to us about your experience in helping the Iranian people?
At first it was very difficult to support them because based on the Iranian regime’s intelligence, which they had published on the internet and a few other channels, were designated as terrorists. It was difficult for us to make people understand they are not bad people, and instead they are victims.
Here in Albania, it is the same. When you hear the term ‘mojahedin’, you start thinking about extremism.
The truth is the name doesn’t help much. However, we don’t call them the Mojahedin. We call them the MEK. They are true Muslims and this is very important for them. They don’t use religion for politics. In their organization there are people with other beliefs. They struggle so Muslims can live in secular conditions. We struggle for gender equality. This is a religious and Muslim organization led by a woman. In a country where there is no gender equality, it is the start of totalitarianism. However, the MEK strives to strengthen the role of women, and for us this is the strongest weapon of all.