February 14, 2001
Peoples' religious values
Your article in The Iranian is very entertaining, if not sad,
because it is based on the real miseries of my countrymen ["Can't
we get along?"].
However, I must say that I think you are mistaken with regards to your
view of the separation of church and state. The true definition of that
means that people are not given power to dictate their version of religion
through state powers because only of their religious/churchly status. Otherwise,
of course a society's religious values will certainly be reflected in its
You give a perfect example of Bush's recent actions as a reflection
of his society's religious values; and this in a nation based on the concept
of the separation of church and state. This is still consitent with the
definition of a secular democracy that reflects its peoples' values,
including the religious, and it is no different than what the poor Iranian
people were hoping for when they screamed "nah sharghi, nah gharbi,
jomhoori eslaami" and "esteghlaal, aazaadi, jomhouri eslaami."
It is unfortunate if anyone thinks that the crux of the misery of Iran
stems from its peoples' religious values and that that is the major area
where reform is needed. Clearly if you follow events in Iran, you'll see
that if democracy and hence, the wishes of the people, were followed,
a tolerant and educated president (at the very least, Mr. Khatami) would
be leading an open society where the rule of law and the rights of men
and women would be just as equally (though perhaps differently) protected
as in the very non-religious West.
It is not the culture of Iran nor its faith that needs reform and "separation"
from its politics, but rather the monopolistic machineries that in the
name of religion block these Iranian values from being realized into policy.
Afterall, as you mentioned, Iran's greatest asset is its people! Dorood
bar Iran-zamin va mardom-e mazhabi va gheir-e-mazhabish!