WASHINGTON – Hundreds of people rallied outside the White House on Saturday, calling on President Obama to remove an Iranian opposition group once allied with Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi regime from the U.S. list of terrorist organizations.

Former Pennsylvania Govs. Tom Ridge and Ed Rendell were among the speakers urging the U.S. to take the Mujahedin-e Khalq off the State Department’s list. Ridge, a Republican, was the nation’s first homeland security secretary. Rendell is a top Democrat who helped elect Obama.

“The only group that should be on the list is the country of Iran itself, under the rule of the mullahs,” Ridge said. He noted recent U.S. allegations of a foiled Iranian plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador in Washington.

The U.S. added the Paris-based MEK to its terrorist list in 1997. But last year, a federal court ordered the State Department to reconsider. Meanwhile, the group has rallied many members of Congress and former high-ranking U.S. officials to its cause.

Delisting would allow the group to raise money and operate in the U.S., which it’s currently barred from doing.

The MEK carried out a series of bombings and assassinations against Iran’s clerical regime in the 1980s and fought alongside Saddam’s forces in the Iran-Iraq war. But the group says it renounced violence in 2001.

Ridge and Rendell said the MEK has not been linked to any terrorist attacks since that time. They pointed out that the European Union and the United Kingdom have concluded that the MEK is not a terrorist organization and called on Obama to reach the same decision.

Critics of the MEK say it has cult-like characteristics and that delisting it would be seen even by moderate Iranians as an endorsement by the U.S. of terrorism.