Women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad (left) and French President Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference 2023

French President Hails Formation Of United Iranian Opposition

Friday, 02/17/2023

The French president has praised a united front among eight leading Iranian opposition figures formed earlier in February, promising to meet with the united group.

Three members of the group, Prince Reza Pahlavi, Masih Alinejad and Nazanin Boniadi are participating in the Munich Security Conference, while Iranian officials have not been invited.

On the sidelines of the conference Emmanuel Macron had a friendly encounter with women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad, one of the eight dissident figures. 

During the short conversation, a video of which was published in Alinejad’s twitter account, Macron said that “I want to congratulate you and all the members of the coalition for joining and teaming up nicely to support.”

“To us and the civil society, what's happening in Iran is very important. And I'd be very happy to meet all of you, altogether because this message of unity is important,” he added. 

Alinejad told Macron that leaders of leading countries are calling the current wave of antigovernment protests across Iran “a revolution,” adding that “France is all about revolution, and you're going to be the voice of Iranian women.”

Also on the sidelines of the first day of the Munich Security Conference, Prince Reza Pahlavi told reporters that “I think when you have a true democratic system, every demand or expectations that people living in that country will have would have to be addressed by the rule of law and guarantee of freedom and equality, and no discrimination of any form.”

He added, “I hope our Constitution in the future will be based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which by default would immediately address so many expectations and of course many more that we could address based on our alliance and work today on a Charter and hopefully build that into the equation in the future.” 

Prince Reza Pahlavi speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference

The organizers of the annual forum, which draws together senior foreign and defense officials, have not invited the Iranian government to this year’s event, citing “the current political situation” in the country. Many Iranians residing in the city also held a gathering outside the venue of the event on Friday supporting the three leading figures at the conference. Protesters in Iran and opponents abroad see the decision to invite dissident leaders as a big victory for the protest movement that began in September after Mahsa Amini was killed in ‘hijab police’ custody. 

During the three-day event, a panel will be held on Saturday titled “Woman, Life, Freedom: Visions for Iran,” in which Alinejad, Pahlavi and actress and activist Boniadi will participate. US Senator Robert Menendez, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and Member of European Parliament Hannah Neumann are also among the panel. Suzanne Maloney from The Brookings Institution and Karim Sadjadpour from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace will be the moderators of the event. 

Since a historic forum in Washington was held earlier this month with four of the eight opposition figures in attendance, and four others sending video messages, the dissident activists have been participating in events around the world to make the voice of the Iranian opposition heard. Such events signal the emergence of a leadership council in the diaspora to campaign for international support in favor of Iran’s protest movement.

Alinejad and Canada-based activist Hamed Esmaeilion, whose daughter and wife were killed in the shooting down of Flight PS752 downed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard in 2020, are also scheduled to deliver speeches at the Italian Senate about the current wave of the protests in Iran. They are also set to attend a gathering against the Islamic Republic in the capital Rome the following day.

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