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Iranian group seeking support

At a rally near Paris, the Mujahedin Khalq asks the U.S. and EU to remove it from terrorism lists.

June 29, 2008|From the Associated Press

PARIS — Thousands of supporters of an Iranian opposition group called on the European Union and the United States to remove the organization from terrorism blacklists at a massive rally Saturday outside Paris.

The Paris-based National Council Resistance of Iran -- an umbrella group that includes the Mujahedin Khalq -- held the rally at an exhibition center in the northern suburb Villepinte days after Britain removed the Mujahedin Khalq from its list of banned terrorism groups.

But National Council leader Maryam Rajavi said the group's status in the U.S. and EU was hindering its ability to fight for a change of government in Iran.

At the rally, she called the terrorist labels "unjust."

"Do not deprive the world from the most effective means to combat the religious fascism and terrorism," Rajavi said.

Although the Mujahedin Khalq participated in Iran's Islamic Revolution, it later opposed the clerical government. Members of the group moved to Iraq in the early 1980s and fought Iran's Islamic rulers from there until the United States invaded in 2003.

American troops have since disarmed thousands of Mujahedin Khalq members, and the group said it had renounced violence several years ago.

The National Council said more than 70,000 people attended Saturday's rally, including many bused in from neighboring countries in Europe.

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