Tom Ridge, a former secretary of the U.S. Homeland Security Department and former governor and member of Congress from Pennsylvania, spoke at the “Free Iran” rally in Paris on 9th July.
He quoted the Iranian poet and patriot, Simin Behbahani, who said: “Stop this extravagance. Stop the reckless throwing of my country to the wind. Stop the screaming, the bloodshed, the mayhem. Stop doing what makes God’s creatures mourn in tears.” Behbahani wrote this in response to the Iranian regime’s brutal crackdown on the 2009 public protest. Ridge highlighted that she wrote this in retaliation for her exercise of what she believed was her civil right and her civic duty to challenge authoritarian evil. She said: “You may wish to have me burned or decide to stone me, but in your hand, match or stone will lose the power to harm me.”
Ridge also said that the Ayatollah, along with his handpicked leaders, has been “throwing the great country of Iran to the wind since 1979”. He said that now is the time, and this is the place, for the rest of the world to see that the Iranian regime will not change. The country needs a new leadership and we in democratic societies must unite. We must unite for “a free Iran, a democratic Iran, a republic based on universal suffrage, the guarantee and protection of civil and human rights, the separation of church and state, the rule of law and peaceful coexistence with its neighbors”.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), led by Maryam Rajavi, organised the event in Paris and Ridge presented them as “the single most visible, most credible, and most effective democratic movement with a clear and specific platform to bring a democratic Iran to existence”.
He said: “This extraordinary organization, under the steady hand and inspiring leadership of Mrs. Rajavi, has resisted the regime’s murderous efforts to silence, no yet exterminate, the opposition. And we all know that all of their tools of repression — stones or matches — have lost and will continue to lose the power to harm or quash this movement toward democracy.”
The Washington Times’ website has an edited version of Tom Ridge’s speech.