Freedom Movement of Iran

Last updated

Freedom Movement of Iran
General Secretary Mohammad Tavasoli
Head of Political officeGhaffar Farzadi
Head of Youth Wing Emad Bahavar
Founded17 May 1961;57 years ago (1961-05-17) [3]
Split from National Front
Religion Islam
National affiliation National Front (1961–1965)
0 / 290

The Freedom Movement of Iran (FMI) or Liberation Movement of Iran (LMI; Persian : نهضت آزادی ايران, translit.  Nahżat-e āzādi-e Irān) is an Iranian pro-democracy political organization founded in 1961, by members describing themselves as "Muslims, Iranians, Constitutionalists and Mossadeghists". [7] It is the oldest party still active in Iran [8] and has been described as a "semi-opposition" [4] or "loyal opposition" [9] party. It has also been described as a "religious nationalist party". [10]

Persian language Western Iranian language

Persian, also known by its endonym Farsi, is one of the Western Iranian languages within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and some other regions which historically were Persianate societies and considered part of Greater Iran. It is written right to left in the Persian alphabet, a modified variant of the Arabic script.

Romanization of Persian or Latinization of Persian is the representation of the Persian language with the Latin script. Several different romanization schemes exist, each with its own set of rules driven by its own set of ideological goals.

Iran Country in Western Asia

Iran, also called Persia and officially known as the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia. With over 81 million inhabitants, Iran is the world's 18th most populous country. Comprising a land area of 1,648,195 km2 (636,372 sq mi), it is the second largest country in the Middle East and the 17th largest in the world. Iran is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan, to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Turkmenistan, to the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, and to the west by Turkey and Iraq. The country's central location in Eurasia and Western Asia, and its proximity to the Strait of Hormuz, give it geostrategic importance. Tehran is the country's capital and largest city, as well as its leading economic and cultural center.


The organization was split to the National Front (II), its establishment was supported by Mohammad Mossadegh. [7] It then applied for the membership in the front [11] with a platform advocating national sovereignty, freedom of political activity and expression, social justice under Islam, respect for Iran’s constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Charter of the United Nations. [5] It believes in the separation of religion and state, while that political activity should be guided by religious values. [12] FMI based on a moderate interpretation of Islam. It rejects both royal and clerical dictatorship in favor of political and economic liberalism. [13]

National Front (Iran) political opposition party in Iran

The National Front of Iran is an opposition political organization in Iran, founded by Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1949. It is the oldest and arguably the largest pro-democracy group operating inside Iran despite having never been able to recover the prominence it had in the early 1950s.

A political party platform or program is a formal set of principal goals which are supported by a political party or individual candidate, in order to appeal to the general public, for the ultimate purpose of garnering the general public's support and votes about complicated topics or issues. "Plank" is the term often given to the components of the political platform – the opinions and viewpoints about individual topics, as held by a party, person, or organization. The word "plank" depicts a component of an overall political platform, as a metaphorical reference to a basic stage made out of boards or planks of wood. The metaphor can return to its literal origin when public speaking or debates are actually held upon a physical platform.

Islam is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion teaching that there is only one God, and that Muhammad is the messenger of God. It is the world's second-largest religion with over 1.8 billion followers or 24% of the world's population, most commonly known as Muslims. Muslims make up a majority of the population in 50 countries. Islam teaches that God is merciful, all-powerful, unique and has guided humankind through prophets, revealed scriptures and natural signs. The primary scriptures of Islam are the Quran, viewed by Muslims as the verbatim word of God, and the teachings and normative example of Muhammad.

Despite being outlawed by the prevailing government in Iran, the group continues to exist. The organization accepts to comply with the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran despite its rejection for Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist. [4] [9] It had not been allowed to run in any election since 1980 [8] (exempting 2003 local elections in which the Guardian Council did not vet the candidates). [14] It was also denied membership in the House of Parties of Iran. [15]

Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran National constitutional law

The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran was adopted by referendum on 2 and 3 December 1979, and went into force replacing the Constitution of 1906. It was amended on 28 July 1989. The constitution has been called a "hybrid" of "theocratic and democratic elements". While articles One and Two vest sovereignty in God, article six "mandates popular elections for the presidency and the Majlis, or parliament." However main democratic procedures and rights are subordinate to the Guardian Council and the Supreme Leader, whose powers are spelled out in Chapter Eight.

The Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist, also called the Governance of the Jurist, is a post-Occultation theory in Shia Islam which holds that Islam gives a faqīh custodianship over people. Ulama supporting the theory disagree over how encompassing custodianship should be. One interpretation – Limited Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist – holds that guardianship should be limited to non-litigious matters including religious endowments (Waqf) judicial matters and the property for which no specific person is responsible. Another – Absolute Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist – maintains that Guardianship should include all issues for which ruler in the absence of Imams have responsibility, including governance of the country. The idea of guardianship as rule was advanced by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in a series of lectures in 1970 and now forms the basis of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The constitution of Iran calls for a faqih, or Vali-ye faqih, to serve as the Supreme Leader of the government. In the context of Iran, Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist is often referred to as "rule by the jurisprudent", or "rule of the Islamic jurist".

Guardian Council appointed and constitutionally-mandated 12-member council that wields considerable power and influence in Iran

The Guardian Council of the Constitution is an appointed and constitutionally mandated 12-member council that wields considerable power and influence in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The organization's members have close ties to the Council of Nationalist-Religious Activists of Iran. [9]

The Council of Nationalist-Religious Activists of Iran or The Coalition of National-Religious Forces of Iran is an Iranian political group, described as "nonviolent, religious semi-opposition" with a following of mainly middle class, intellectual, representatives of technical professions, students and technocrats.

1953 Coup d'etat and aftermath

Mohammad Mosaddegh Mohmmad,Mosaddegh2 (cropped).jpg
Mohammad Mosaddegh

The group originated in the early 1950s, after the 1953 coup d'état against the government of Dr. Mohammad Mossadeq who was Prime Minister of Iran from April 1951 to August 1953 (with a very brief interruption in July 1952). That coup brought down Mossadegh and his colleagues from power and reinstalled the Shah as the dominant force in Iranian politics. The newly installed government quickly rounded up Mossadegh's closest supporters, outlawing freedom of expression and cracking down on free political activity. Mossadegh himself was placed before a military court and sentenced to three years in prison. A group of low-ranking leaders from the Mossadegh era quickly formed an underground organization calling itself the National Resistance Movement (NRM). It is significant in the context of the FMI's history because this reincarnation of the National Front (the umbrella group for Mossadegh's supporters) was constituted mainly of religious laymen, which differentiated it from the secular members of the banned National Front, including Mossadegh himself. The NRM campaigned for the 1954 Majlis to be free and fair (they were not) and attempted

1953 Iranian coup détat overthrow of the democratically elected government of Iran

The 1953 Iranian coup d'état, known in Iran as the 28 Mordad coup d'état, was the overthrow of Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in favour of strengthening the monarchical rule of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi on 19 August 1953, orchestrated by the United Kingdom and the United States, and the first United States covert action to overthrow a foreign government during peacetime.

Prime Minister of Iran former a political post in Iran

The Prime Minister of Iran was a political post in Iran that had existed during several different periods of time starting with the Qajar era until its most recent revival from 1979 to 1989 following the Iranian Revolution.

The National Movement of the Iranian Resistance was a political organization founded by Shapour Bakhtiar in 1979. An exiled opposition to the Islamic Republic regime, the organization pursued a convergence of nationalism and constitutional liberalism and its membership included liberals, conservatives, and democratic socialists, as well as monarchists of a constitutional nature.

Early 1960s: The creation of the Freedom Movement

In 1960, the Second National Front was formed, which mostly involved figures from the early 1950s during Mossadegh's time in office. However, in 1961, Mehdi Bazargan, Mahmud Taleghani, Yadollah Sahabi (all prominent liberals) broke away to form a more religious (and radical) counterpart to the National Front. This new group quickly gained a large following exceeding that of their rival and its leaders advocated civil disobedience such as protests, sit-ins and strikes as a way of pressuring the Shah to reinstitute democratic rule. But, after a brief period of reform under Prime Minister Ali Amini, the government cracked down on dissent. In June 1963, a massive uprising occurred in five Iranian cities over the arrest of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a radical cleric who had been making inflammatory statements concerning the government of the Shah and his allegedly anti-Islamic policies. Faced with this, the government sent in the army infantry and tanks to crush the riots, which resulted in at least hundreds (some believe thousands) of deaths. Because the FMI had supported the uprising, their group was singled out for harassment and made to disappear by the mid-1960s. But, in 1964, the FMI (along with other parties) helped to form (with Mossadegh's blessings) the Third National Front which, like the FMI, took a more active and radical stance toward the Shah's government compared to that of the more cautious Second National Front. By 1965, all legal forms of dissidence had been done away with, leaving armed violence as the only means of inflicting some sort of damage on the government.

Ali Amini Prime Minister of Iran from 6 May 1961 to 19 July 1962

Ali Amini was an Iranian politician and writer who was the Prime Minister of Iran from 6 May 1961 to 19 July 1962.

Ruhollah Khomeini 20th-century Iranian religious leader and politician

Sayyid Ruhollah Mūsavi Khomeini, known in the Western world as Ayatollah Khomeini, was an Iranian politician and marja. He was the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution that saw the overthrow of the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and the end of 2,500 years of Persian monarchy. Following the revolution, Khomeini became the country's Supreme Leader, a position created in the constitution of the Islamic Republic as the highest-ranking political and religious authority of the nation, which he held until his death. He was succeeded by Ali Khamenei on 4 June 1989.

Events leading to the Islamic Revolution (1965–1979)

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the FMI operated mostly outside in the country, mainly in the United States and Europe. The seemingly omnipresent nature of SAVAK (the Shah's secret police force, allegedly responsible for executing, imprisoning and torturing tens of thousands of political inmates) and the stifling police state atmosphere discouraged any sort of major activity inside Iran. Until the mid-1970s, those Iranians who had actively opposed the Shah had been mainly of left-wing or liberal background, with the former dominating by far. But beginning in that decade, thanks partly to the FMI, the religious elements (including the mullahs) began to dominate the movement. They were able to do this because the Islamic movement had a network of over 9,000 mosques, 180,000 mullahs and millions of pious followers in Iran and it could freely operate, unlike the left-wing elements who were mercilessly crushed by SAVAK, the police and the government's military apparatus. In January 1978, the pro-government newspaper Ettelaat published an article accusing Khomeini of being, among other things, a reactionary and British agent. This led to an uprising in the holy city of Qom and the uprising soon spread to Tabriz, Tehran and other major cities. By the end of 1978, the government of the Shah (once touted as possessing the fifth largest military force on Earth) had all but collapsed under the weight of massive uprisings and workers' strikes. In response to the Shah's appointment of Shapour Bakhtiar as prime minister, Khomeini appointed Mehdi Bazargan as head of the provisional government (which was not yet in power). On Feb. 11 1979, the government fell and what became known as the Islamic Republic of Iran took its place.

Islamic Republic of Iran (1979–present)

Cabinet of Mehdi Bazargan (Interim Government of Iran) Bazargan-cabinet.jpg
Cabinet of Mehdi Bazargan (Interim Government of Iran)

The Islamic Republic of Iran was proclaimed on 1 April 1979 after the results of a referendum in which allegedly more than 98% voted for this system. The Provisional Government took office on 12 February, right after the former government fell, but it quickly became apparent that this government lacked any real power, which was instead concentrated in the Islamic Revolutionary Council (which was dominated by hard-line religious fundamentalists) and the local Islamic Komitehs (committees). The PG was composed mainly of elements from the FMI (including Bazargan, Taleghani, Sahabi, Yazdi, Nazih), but also included a few leaders of the National Front (Sanjabi, Ardalan, Forouhar). This period expressed the height of the LMI's influence over Iranian politics, but it was not to last. By Aug. 1979, the new government was clamping down on dissent, outlawing nearly all political parties and instituting a campaign of terror against its critics. The Bazargan cabinet resigned en masse on 5 November 1979, and thus, ended the Interim Government of Iran.

Islamic Revolutionary Council Council of the Islamic Revolution - From left Mehdi Bazargan, Mohammad-Reza Mahdavi Kani, Yadollah Sahabi, Ali Khamenei, Abolhassan Banisadr (Head of council), Hassan Habibi, Abdul-Karim Mousavi Ardebili.jpg
Islamic Revolutionary Council

The Islamic government (led by Ayatollah Khomeini) crushed all dissent in the country so that the oppositionists, both real and potential, either fled abroad or were murdered or imprisoned. But the LMI continued to exist as a barely tolerated force in the Majlis, where it called for an early end to the war with Iraq in 1984 (the war had started in September 1980 when Iraqi forces, under the orders of Saddam Hussein, invaded Iran).

In 20 Jan 1995, Bazargan died (of natural causes) and Ebrahim Yazdi took over as leader of the organization, [16] which held until his death in 2017. The group continued to exist as a tolerated party until the government cracked down on it in the year 2000, arresting and placing on trial dozens of activists belonging to the group, making the party non-operational. Since the election of Hasan Rouhani as the president of Iran in 2013, FMI experienced a new era of political activity. In 27 Aug 2017 Ibrahim Yazdi died due to cancer and Mohammad Tavassoli became the third secretary-general of FMI.


Imprisonment of FMI members

Imprisonment of FMI Members [19]
NoNameFamilyNumber of Those ArrestedYears of ImprisonmentTotal No. of Those ArrestedTotal Years of Imprisonment
9AhmadHaj Sayyed Javadi0100.0310.03
33Mohammad-HosseinBani Asadi120.61.732.3

See also

Splinter groups

Related Research Articles

Mohammad-Ali Rajai 2nd President of Islamic Republic of Iran

Mohammad-Ali Rajai was the second President of Iran from 2 to 30 August 1981 after serving as prime minister under Abolhassan Banisadr. He was also minister of foreign affairs from 11 March 1981 to 15 August 1981, while he was prime minister. He was assassinated in a bombing on 30 August 1981 along with prime minister Mohammad-Javad Bahonar.

Ebrahim Yazdi Iranian politician and activist

Ebrahim Yazdi was an Iranian politician and diplomat who served as deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs in the interim government of Mehdi Bazargan, until his resignation in November 1979, in protest at the Iran hostage crisis. From 1995 until 2017, he headed the Freedom Movement of Iran. Yazdi was also a trained cancer researcher.

Mehdi Bazargan Iranian politician

Mehdi Bazargan was an Iranian scholar, academic, long-time pro-democracy activist and head of Iran's interim government, making him Iran's first prime minister after the Iranian Revolution of 1979. He resigned his position as prime minister in November 1979, in protest at the US Embassy takeover and as an acknowledgement of his government's failure in preventing it.

Sadegh Ghotbzadeh Iranian politician

Sadegh Ghotbzadeh was a close aide of Ayatollah Khomeini during his 1978 exile in France, and foreign minister during the Iran hostage crisis following the Iranian Revolution. In 1982, he was executed for allegedly plotting the assassination of Ayatollah Khomeini and the overthrow of the Islamic Republic.

Liberalism in Iran

Liberalism in Iran or Iranian liberalism is a political ideology that traces its beginnings to the 20th century.

1985 Iranian presidential election election

The Iranian presidential election of 1985 took place on August 16, 1985, and resulted in the re-election of the incumbent President Ali Khamenei.

Mostafa Chamran Iranian politician

Mostafa Chamran Save'ei was an Iranian physicist, politician, commander and guerrilla who served as the first defense minister of post-revolutionary Iran and as member of parliament, as well as the commander of paramilitary volunteers in Iran–Iraq War, known as "Irregular Warfare Headquarters". He was killed during the Iran–Iraq War. In Iran, he is known as a martyr and a symbol of an ideological and revolutionary Muslim who left academic careers and prestigious positions as a scientist and professor in the US, University of California, Berkeley and migrated in order to help the Islamic movements in Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt as a chief revolutionary guerilla, as well as in the Islamic revolution of Iran. He helped to found the Amal Movement in southern Lebanon.

Karim Sanjabi politician and jurist in Iran and founder of the National Front

Karim Sanjabi was an Iranian politician of National Front.

Hashem Sabbaghian Iranian politician

Hashem Sabbaghian is an Iranian politician, humanitarian, democracy activist and former parliament member. He was minister of interior in the interim government led by Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan in 1979. Later, he became member of parliament from 1980 to 1984.

Organizations of the Iranian Revolution

Many organizations, parties and guerrilla groups were involved in the Iranian Revolution. Some were part of Ayatollah Khomeini's network and supported the theocratic Islamic Republic movement, while others did not and were suppressed. Some groups were created after the fall of the Pahlavi Dynasty and still survive; others helped overthrow the Shah but no longer exist.

Interim Government of Iran government of Iran from February to November 1979

The Interim Government of Iran, officially the Provisional Revolutionary and Islamic Government of Iran was the first government established in Iran after the Iranian Revolution, and the first nominal republic established in Iran after 2,500 years of Persian monarchy. The regime was headed by Mehdi Bazargan, one of the members of the Freedom Movement of Iran, and formed on the order of Ruhollah Khomeini on 4 February 1979. From 4 February to 11 February, Bazargan and Shapour Bakhtiar, the Shah's last Prime Minister, both claimed to be the legitimate prime minister; Bakhtiar fled on 11 February. Mehdi Bazargan was the prime minister of the interim government and introduced a seven-member cabinet on 14 February 1979. Ebrahim Yazdi was elected as the Foreign Minister.

Parliamentary elections were held in Iran in 1954. Political parties were banned from contesting the election, and all 136 elected MPs were independents.

1961 Iranian legislative election

Parliamentary elections were held in Iran in 1961, after the elections the previous year had been annulled by the Shah. The result was a victory for the Party of Nationalists, which won majority of the seats.

Ahmad Sayyed Javadi Iranian lawyer, political activist and politician

Ahmad Sadr Haj Seyyed Javadi was an Iranian lawyer, political activist and politician, who served as interior minister and justice minister. He was the first interior minister after the 1979 revolution in Iran.

Third Force was a loosely organized non-aligned political movement in Iran which advocated an independent, socialist–nationalist philosophy of development. Though not a modern party, it maintained organization within activists and press. It did not become an important party, however made an enormous impact on Iranian democracy struggle after 1953 Iranian coup d'état.

Toilers Party of the Iranian Nation was a social-democratic political party in Iran.

Abolfazl Bazargan is an Iranian political activist and a senior member of the Freedom Movement of Iran.

Mostafa Katiraei Iranian politician

Mostafa Katiraei was an Iranian engineer and politician who served in the interim government of Bazargan as the minister of housing. He was also a member in the Council of the Islamic Revolution.

Mohammad-Hassan Shamshiri, more known as Haj Hasan Shamshiri, was an Iranian bazaari restaurateur, philanthropist and civic patriotic activist.


  1. Houchang E. Chehabi (1990). Iranian Politics and Religious Modernism: The Liberation Movement of Iran Under the Shah and Khomeini. I.B.Tauris. p. 156. ISBN   1850431981.
  2. Houchang Chehabi, Rula Jurdi Abisaab (2006). Distant Relations: Iran and Lebanon in the Last 500 Years. I.B.Tauris. p. 183. ISBN   1860645615.
  3. Spellman, Kathryn (2008). Religion and Nation: Iranian Local and Transnational Networks in Britain. Berghahn Books. p. 21. ISBN   1571815775.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Buchta, Wilfried (2000), Who rules Iran?: the structure of power in the Islamic Republic, Washington DC: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, The Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, pp. 80–82, ISBN   0-944029-39-6
  5. 1 2 Ashraf, Ahmad (April 5, 2012) [December 15, 2007]. "ISLAM IN IRAN xiii. ISLAMIC POLITICAL MOVEMENTS IN 20TH CENTURY IRAN". In Yarshater, Ehsan. Encyclopædia Iranica . Fasc. 2. XIV. New York City: Bibliotheca Persica Press. pp. 157–172. Retrieved September 12, 2016.
  6. Mohammadighalehtaki, Ariabarzan (2012). Organisational Change in Political Parties in Iran after the Islamic Revolution of 1979. With Special Reference to the Islamic Republic Party (IRP) and the Islamic Iran Participation Front Party (Mosharekat) (Ph.D. thesis). Durham University. p. 122.
  7. 1 2 3 Jahanbakhsh, Forough (2001). "Opposition Groups". Islam, Democracy and Religious Modernism in Iran, 1953-2000: From Bāzargān to Soroush. Islamic History and Civilization. 77. Brill Publishers. pp. 91–92. ISBN   9004119825.
  8. 1 2 Mohammad Ali Kadivar (2013), "Alliances and Perception Profiles in the Iranian Reform Movement, 1997 to 2005", American Sociological Review, American Sociological Association, 78 (6): 1063–1086, doi:10.1177/0003122413508285
  9. 1 2 3 Kazemzadeh, Masoud (2008). "Opposition Groups". Iran Today: An Encyclopedia of Life in the Islamic Republic. 1. Greenwood Press. p. 367. ISBN   031334163X.
  10. Iran bans opposition party in crackdown on dissent | The Guardian
  11. Houchang Chehabi, Rula Jurdi Abisaab (2006). Distant Relations: Iran and Lebanon in the Last 500 Years. I.B.Tauris. p. 155. ISBN   1860645615.
  12. 1 2 3 "The Freedom Movement of Iran (FMI)", The Iran Social Science Data Portal, Princeton University, retrieved 10 August 2015
  14. Bill Samii (3 March 2003), Iran Report, 6 (9), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, retrieved 15 May 2017
  15. Iran Report, 7 (27), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 17 August 2004, retrieved 15 May 2017
  17. "Iran Freedom Movement Names New Head", Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 18 September 2017, retrieved 21 October 2017
  18. 1 2 Mark Gasiorowski (Autumn 2012), "US Intelligence Assistance to Iran, May–October 1979", Middle East Journal, 66 (4), doi:10.3751/66.4.13, JSTOR   23361620
  19. "Imprisonment of FMI Members".