The costly effort to rebrand Iranian group on the US terrorist list
bbc / Owen Bennett Jones

How do you get a group described by the US government as a cult and an officially designated foreign terrorist organisation to be viewed by many congressmen and parliamentarians as champions of human rights and secular democracy?

It would challenge even the most talented PR executive.

The starkly differing perceptions of the MEK or People's Mujahideen of Iran could be a case study in the power of image management - of what can be achieved not with guns but by the way information is disseminated.

The organisation has a history of ideological and tactical flexibility.

Since the 1970s, its rhetoric has changed from Islamist to secular; from socialist to capitalist; from pro-Iranian-revolution to anti-Iranian-revolution; from pro-Saddam to pro-American; from violent to peaceful.

And there is another dichotomy - it has admiring supporters and ardent critics.

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