THE UK must stand by the people of Iran in their fight for democracy and freedom, as it is doing for Ukraine, a former Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, said at a “solidarity iftar” organised by the Iranian resistance movement in London.
The iftar — the daily meal that breaks the fast during Ramadan — was organised by the National Council of Resistance in Iran and called “No to Warmongering and Islamic Extremism”.
Dr Morgan attended the event by video link, saying: “The people of Iran have refused to give in, and are challenging the regime at every opportunity with great personal cost. I urge the UK and our Government to stand with you, recognise your struggle for freedom and democracy in Iran just as we are doing in Ukraine.
“I also urge the UK Government to impose human-rights sanctions on senior leaders of the regime for its crime against humanity and torture of political prisoners, dissidents, and protesters.
“The future of Iran is in the hands of the Iranian people, and with those who advocate inclusiveness and peaceful coexistence. That is why I stand with the Iranian resistance and its president-elect, Madam Rajavi.”
Maryam Rajavi is head of the National Council of Resistance of Iran. She said: “The word of God is not one of compulsion. It is a message that you must hear, offer reason, and consult. Islam is the religion of freedom of expression. It does not prohibit opposition to the rulers and even encourages it. Anything that would be against the freedom of man lacks credibility from the perspective of Islam.”
The Revd Christina Rees, a school chaplain and assistant curate in Norwich diocese, and a former member of the Archbishops’ Council, was among the speakers at the iftar online. She criticised UK government policy towards Iran. “The war in Ukraine reminds us that you cannot appease dictators and reward their unacceptable behaviour,” she said. “The people of Ukraine have proven that they are our best allies in the struggle against dictatorship.
“In regard to Iran, the UK is stuck in the appeasement policy of past decades. The Iranian Resistance deserves our support because they are at the forefront of the fight against Islamic fundamentalism. Her ten-point platform provides a roadmap to a free and secular and democratic Iran. This is the roadmap that the UK and the world should back.”
There has been sharp rise in the number of people executed in Iran since the election of the hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi as President last year. At least 333 people were executed last year.
In March, the Iranian-British dual nationals Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori were released by Iran after years of captivity that followed accusations of spying, which they denied (News, 18 March).