Akbar Ganji was jailed by the mullahs in Tehran for six years for his political beliefs, and demonstrated his commitment by hunger strikes. What are those beliefs? Here is a new translation of a speech he once gave (link now fixed). It's really a statement of classical liberalism, what Neil Tennant called "dear old, dreary liberal rights." By "liberal" I do not mean the infantilization of people under a cloying and growing welfare state. I mean the liberalism of the founding fathers, of John Locke, of the American Constitution. And part of that liberalism, according to Ganji, is as follows:
Liberals always accept religion in the private sphere. They protested the unity of the institutions of religion and government and still do. They are not anti-religion. Freedom of religion is a basic principle of liberalism. Contrary to orthodox Marxists who completely reject religion, even from the private sphere of individuals (since they considered it the opium of the masses), liberals believe that everyone must have the right to set up his life according to his religious beliefs. But the civic code must not be based on any particular religious teachings. It should guarantee the freedom of religion in the personal life and morality. Incidentally, a law based on the teachings of a particular religion is unable to guarantee the freedom of all religions.
Sometimes it takes a man living in an actual theocracy to remind us to be on guard against it, even with the blessing of the First Amendment. It gives me great hope to realize that for years, in some vile Iranian jail, someone knew his John Locke. Even while too many Americans have found it so easy to forget him.