Human Rights have Priority over Secularism
آیا حقوق بشر بر سکولاریسم اولویت دارد
A viewpoint discussing priority of human rights to secularism is brought up since efforts for "Global Secular Initiative" have started (1).
This discussion is very similar to the discourse of priority of social justice to democracy which filled the pages of European history in the 20th Century. Karl Popper gave the best response to the argument when he said: "I remained a socialist for several years after my rejection of Marxism; and if there could be such thing as socialism combined with individual liberty, I would be a socialist still. For nothing could be better than living a modest, simple, and free life in an egalitarian society. It took some time before I recognized this is as no more than a beautiful dream; that freedom is more important than equality; that the attempt to realize equality endangers freedom; and that, if freedom is lost, there will not even be equality among the unfree." [Karl Popper, “Lessons of This Century”, 1997, P.5] (2).
In other words, giving priority to democracy does not mean that social justice is not more important for us but it means that social justice in the real sense of the word can only be defined in a democratic system.
Giving priority to secularism over human rights has the same reason. The experience of a thousand years of European history during Middle Ages showed that struggle for human rights not only cannot bear fruit till religion and state are separated but it also prevents such efforts. In fact, the experience of Reformation of Luther and Calvin showed that Calvin's Geneva was not much different from Pope's Vatican and finally what was cleared for Europe after centuries of trial and error was that struggle for human rights can be real and bear fruits when religion and state are separated (3).
Thus giving priority to secularism does not mean that human rights is not more important for us but it means that in the conditions of lack of secularism, human rights cannot be achieved and similar to Calvin's Geneva and Morsi's Egypt in our times, the human rights for a particular religion will be established and not for all (4).
Hoping for a democratic and secular futurist republic in Iran,
Sam Ghandchi, Editor/Publisher
February 25, 2015
1. Time for a Global Secular Initiative
2. Is Socialism More Just?
3. "Religion as a Private Matter" in the West!
4. Why Secularism maps Iran's Future (in Persian)