Thousands of Iranian exiles demonstrate in Berlin


Lerato Khumalo

A new president is being elected in Iran. Thousands of people are demonstrating against the regime in the country in Berlin. The National Resistance Council, which called for the protest, is not without controversy, however.

Thousands of people took to the streets in Berlin to protest against the country’s political leadership during the presidential election in Iran. On Saturday afternoon, police counted around 6,000 demonstrators around Bebelplatz and on Unter den Linden, a spokeswoman said. According to police, 8,000 people had registered for the rally.

The so-called National Council of Resistance of Iran called for the protest, saying that tens of thousands of people took part. They are said to have traveled to Berlin from all over Germany in hundreds of buses. Members of the Bundestag also spoke at the event. According to the Council of Resistance, the protest is directed against the clerical leadership in the country. Many people waved the pre-revolutionary Iranian national flag with a golden lion in the middle.

On Friday, around 61 million people in Iran were called upon to elect a new head of government. Iran’s political system has combined republican and theocratic elements since the 1979 revolution. However, there are no free elections: the Guardian Council’s control body always checks candidates for their suitability. Fundamental criticism of the system is not tolerated, as the suppression of protests in recent years has shown.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran was formed in 1981 from the so-called People’s Mujahedin. The exiled group has set itself the goal of overthrowing the ruling system in Iran. However, the organization is controversial and is largely rejected by opposition members both inside and outside Iran. The group is banned in Iran.