Iran Needs Separation Of Mosque And State, Rights Activist Says.

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A human rights activist who was jailed and tortured in Iran for opposing that nation's faith-based regime says only separation of religion and government can save the country.

Monireh Baradaran was imprisoned at age 24 for her activities with a group opposed to the harsh Islamic rule of former Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. She spent nine years behind bars where she endured various forms of torture. In her book The Simple Truth, Baradaran writes about being flogged with cables and forced to sit upright, blindfolded, for hours at a time over a period of 10 months. "The only thing we heard were Koranic verses sometimes or the taped breakdowns of other prisoners who fell apart and lost their balance," she told a meeting of the Alliance for Defense of Human Rights in Iran, a Washington-based group, last month.

Baradaran added, "The mix of state and religion in modern Iran provides the Islamic Republic with the pretext for the most violent forms of political suppression in the name of religion. What is happening in Iran today is in the context of crimes against humanity."

Later, in an interview with The Washington Post, Baradaran noted that a prominent cleric, Yousefi Eshkevari, is currently on trial in Iran, charged with espousing atheism. She added, "The only option remains the separation of church and state."

Baradaran has been granted political asylum and now lives in Germany.

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