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French deputies back Iranian opposition group

July 16, 2008

PARIS (AFP) French deputies presented exiled Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi with a declaration calling for democratic change in Iran in a ceremony at France's National Assembly Wednesday.

And they called for the National Council of Resistance of Iran (CNRI), of which Rajavi is president, to be removed from the European Union's list of terrorist organisations.

The declaration, drafted by parties from all sides of the house and signed by 290 French deputies, condemned the "terrible human rights violations in Iran."

British Members of Parliament and deputies from the European Parliament, in Paris to attend a conference, also attended the ceremony.

Communist deputy Jean-Pierre Brard said they would be pushing for the CNRI to be reclassified during France's six-month presidency of the European Union, which started this month.

"A great number of deputies consider that the policy of complacency (towards Iran) has not led to anything and that the governments' positions smell too much of oil," he added.

Rajavi's group is a coalition of which the armed opposition People's Mujahideen Organisation of Iran (PMOI) is a member.

The PMOI is banned in Iran, and considered a terrorist group by the European Union and the United States.

British Conservative MP Brian Binley also called for the EU to follow the example of Britain and lift the ban on PMOI, which Britain did last month, a decision bitterly attacked by Tehran.

The EU has frozen many of the PMOI's assets as a result of its decision.

Iran always refers to the PMOI -- which carried out a bloody wave of assassinations in Tehran in the early 1980s -- as the "monafeghin" meaning hypocrites.

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