Alberta Politics
A tiny Stephen Harper on the stage in Paris where he addressed Mojahedin-e Khalq, no longer classified as a terrorist group, with his image looming above, Big Brother style (Photo: Screenshot from MEK video).

Stephen Harper’s Paris speech to Mojahedin-e Khalq: No laws were broken; appropriate interests were served; get over it!

Posted on July 06, 2018, 1:58 am
8 mins

Many readers would be offended if someone were to suggest the Roman Catholic Church was a former terrorist organization with cult-like attributes.

Still, wouldn’t terrorism be a fair description of the Inquisition, the brutal effort to root out heresy carried out from the 12th to the early 19th centuries by what was effectively a non-state actor, as we say in the bland militaristic bureaucratese of the 21st Century?

Another screenshot of the restless former prime minister letting off some steam on stage in Paris.

And isn’t the idea of excommunication for whatever reason, even if it is not much practiced any more, the sort of behaviour we associate to this day with religious cults?

I ask these questions only as a sort of back-handed defence of Stephen Harper, the former Conservative prime minister who obviously has far too much time on his hands these days, for travelling to Paris last Saturday to give an apparently well-compensated speech to a “Free Iran” rally sponsored by an Iranian exile group Mr. Harper’s own government classified as terrorists as recently as 2012.

And 2012, alert readers will grasp, isn’t as long ago as the 12th Century. But that was then and 2018 is now, and not just as far as Mr. Harper is concerned.

Mojahedin-e Khalq, the group in question, often referred to as MEK and also known as the People’s Mujahadeen, was declared by various Western governments to be a terrorist group in 1979, back in the days it wanted to overthrow the Shah of Iran, a geopolitical ally of the United States.

Mojahedin-e Khalq leader Maryam Rajavi (Photo: Creative Commons).

The same year, as it turned out, someone else overthrew the Shah. Eventually, MEK ceased to be officially branded a terrorist group. This was probably because, over time, it began to talk instead about overthrowing the Shia Islamic religious government of Iran, which is emphatically not a geopolitical ally of the United States.

While Mojahedin-e Khalq doesn’t seem to have repeated the assassinations and terrorist attacks it perpetrated in the 1980s, it continues, by all accounts, to be a rather unsavoury organization that has a weirdly cult-like structure. This makes it quite unlike the Catholic Church, which, by comparison, nowadays plays a largely positive role throughout the world.

Given its new status as a non-terrorist cult-like organization, it must be said, Mr. Harper is entirely within his rights to address the MEK rally in Paris. No laws were broken.

It’s likely, moreover, that he was well compensated for his histrionics, as MEK is reputed to pay North American politicos sums in the order of $50,000 US to address its gatherings for a few minutes. We all have to make a living.

Plus, the restless former MP had company. Conservative House Leader Candice Bergen, former Harper Era foreign affairs minister John Baird, and Liberal MP Judy Sgro all trooped to the podium in Paris with him. Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani, confidants of U.S. President Donald Trump, also addressed the group, and posed for photos with Mr. Harper and MEK leader Maryam Rajavi.

Lord Palmerston by Francis Cruikshank , circa 1855 (Image: Public Domain).

I’m sure Mr. Harper won’t mind if we refer to him henceforth as, say, “Mojahedin Steve.” After all, it was under Mr. Harper’s leadership in 2006 that the Conservative Party of Canada smeared the late Jack Layton, leader of the NDP in Parliament, with the sobriquet “Taliban Jack” for daring to suggest that what was really needed in Afghanistan was “a comprehensive peace process … to bring all the combatants to the table.”

Mr. Layton was excoriated as naive at best and treasonous at worst. He was accused by the then-nascent online Conservative Rage Machine of failing to support Canada’s soldiers abroad and giving comfort to people who were shooting at them.

The Conservatives have never apologized for this, and never explained themselves. Meanwhile, however, the world has moved on and, nowadays, even the U.S. armed forces gingerly talk to the Taliban, which we mostly recognize is an important part of a coalition that enjoys considerable support from Afghanistan’s Pashtun ethnic majority and will someday probably return to power.

This illustrates the point made by Lord Palmerston, twice prime minister of Britain in the 19th Century, that “nations have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests.”

For the moment, the interests of the United States and those of Mojahedin-e Khalq align, and therefore it is OK for Mr. Harper to take MEK’s money and give them a nice speech about freedom, with a little arm waving thrown in, no matter how unmoved the sentiments he expressed may actually have left the organization’s leaders.

Will the day come when it is acceptable for a Canadian Conservative politician to give a speech to a freedom rally in a nice Western capital put on by the Islamic State, better known as ISIS? This may seem unlikely right now, but never say never.

There’s been evidence Western military forces mucking about in Syria were willing to let ISIS fighters go, as long as they directed their terroristic attentions at the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom the Americans would like to topple. Mr. Assad’s Russian allies, at any rate, have accused the Americans of that, and worse.

Indeed, this may present a future business opportunity that Harper & Associates – whose spokesperson defended Mr. Harper’s Paris speech on the grounds he didn’t endorse a MEK government for Iran – for that time in the future when the West has a self-serving public Road to Damascus moment about the nature and intentions of ISIS.

In the meantime, he might be smart to stick to meetings of the International Democrat Union, the right-wing Internationale he heads.

As for the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition, it’s changed its name and doesn’t seem to have executed anyone for heresy since 1826.

4 Comments to: Stephen Harper’s Paris speech to Mojahedin-e Khalq: No laws were broken; appropriate interests were served; get over it!

  1. David

    July 7th, 2018

    As the saying goes idle hands are the tools of the devil. Perhaps Mr. Harper is struggling to keep himself occupied since he was unceremonoisly let go from his previous position. In any event he seems to have become a bit mischievious lately, or pwrhaps he has always been somewhat drawn or attracted to religoius zealots.

    I suppose his new public speaking venture allows him to meet and hang out with all sorts of new people, the type he couldn’t before because those exra old stock Conservative voters might not approve. Today the Mujahadin, maybe tomorrow the Talliban and perhaps someday ISIS, who knows. There might be all sorts of diiferent people for him to meet on his figurative road to Damascus.

    Perhaps the journey might even broaden his mind, well perhaps that might be too much to hope for. At least he will get some nice cheques to take to the bank to suplement his meager government pension.

    Reply
  2. Expat Albertan

    July 7th, 2018

    It’s stranger than you think…MEK used to be pretty hard line Marxists. If not Mujahedeen Steve then surely Comrade Steve.

    Reply
  3. Maryam Ahmadi

    July 11th, 2018

    If someone can tell me how much Harper got paid to attend, and how much David got paid to write this nonsense, I’d really appreciate it.

    Reply
    • Lois Lussier

      July 21st, 2018

      This is David’s blog, so he is free to express his opinions on may and varied subjects or people. For most of us, its not important how much he got paid as long as he pays the required income tax on any remuneration he received. I have always found any opinion pieces David puts forth for us to read are well researched and use facts to support them.

      Rather than come here to just take a shot at this gentleman’s blog, why not lay out in clear and concise language where it is that you disagree with David’s assessment of the content of Harper’s little chat in Paris?

      Reply

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