Law and Religion in Israel and Iran: How the Integration of Secular and Spiritual Laws Affects Human Rights and the Potential for Violence

Part I of this article provides a brief sketch of the principles of the two majority religions at issue in this discussion and an overview of the history of both Israel and Iran. It explains why each nation has chosen to structure itself as it has and why the imposition of U.S.-style secularism would be an inappropriate method of dealing with the religio-legal conflict in the two societies. Part II compares the fundamental or constitutional laws of the two nations by analyzing the provisions, policies, and practices most influenced by religion. After identifying and analyzing the laws themselves in Part II, this article discusses in Part III the extent to which Israeli and Iranian laws comply with international human rights conventions concerning religious rights. The article concludes by discussing where each nation is heading in terms of religion and law and by offering suggestions as to what each nation, and indeed any nation, should do to create an optimal religious rights framework.