Amir Taheri reviews "Memoirs of an Iranian Rebel" by Masoud Banisadr, about the author's allegiance to the Mujahedin and its leader Masoud Rajavi. Cults are cults the world over, and this has a familiar ring:
Masoud Banisadr, our memoirist, was roughly the same age as Masoud Rajavi. He was better educated than Rajavi because he had completed his university course, obtained a PH.D, and learned English. He had also more practical political experience because he had organised a student union , managed fund-raising events, and lobbied British parliamentarians, journalists and trade union leaders. And yet, Masoud Banisadr regarded Masoud Rajavi as almost a god. He was ready to lie, cheat, betray and even kill for Rajavi.
Banisadr was not alone.
Almost all the Mujahedin cadres were better educated and more experienced than Rajavi. But Rajavi was able to play with them like toys. He would order them to divorce their wives and they would do so without protest. He would tell them to hate each other and use abusive language against their closest comrades, and they would do so with zeal. He would ask them to laugh or to cry, and even, quite literally, to dance for him and they would do so like circus bears.
So: who was it who had a problem?
Rajavi or those who helped build his personality cult?
Lacking education and experience, Rajavi acted on animal instinct. He realised that the revolution, which many had dreamed of but few had really wanted, had produced large numbers of rootless people looking for a measure of certainty.
Rajavi was clever enough to know that only well-educated individuals could be deceived in a big way. Ordinary people, the illiterate peasants and semi-literate workers, could be deceived in small matters, but never on big ones, if only because they lacked the imagination needed to believe big lies. For example, no Iranian peasant shed a tear when Stalin died in 1953 while many Iranian poets wrote qasidas to mourn the Soviet dictator. No Iranian peasant or worker joined the Khomeinist movement until after the Shah had shown that he was no longer able to play the role of the " father."
At one point in 1988 Rajavi boasted that the Mujahedin were the only organisation in which people with university degrees were a majority. He was more right than he had imagined. His sect included famous poets, writers, entertainers, footballers, and scientists.