I think that democracy is a good thing. Even a bad democracy is better than a good dictatorship. Because people learn by making mistakes. But in dictatorship, they can not learn at all. Or have the power to change anything. That is the way people learn. By trial and error.
In Iran, this lack of democratic development , caused by the very strong right wing elements and using the religious apparatus to impose their rule , resulted in the destruction of socialist and progressive political movements .
The result is as we see. A lack of independent parliament . Or lack of effective and democratic participation of the entire population. And politics best described as defeatist and Liberal. These have further destroyed Iranian agriculture and national industry. And damaged Iranian national defence.
In the west , opinions are not curtailed . Political parties form. However the power of the majority is curtailed through less visible means. For example, one will never get the right job , if one is not wearing the right tie . But one can never prove it. But altogether , their more democratic forms are more efficient and stable means of governance. But these states , only want democratic forms for their own people. Not ours.
As far as secularism , then it can be a good and positive structure. Providing that the existing religious norms are entirely outdated and negative. And that alternative structures exist , that allow better more relevant social laws and norms. Shajarian must have felt, this to be true. And seeing the pain and suffering brought about, through the application of religious rule, I understand why he said it. But the oppressive measures should be attributable to the role of the reactionary right wing, rather than religion itself. By removing religion from the picture, the public can identify these reactionary elements, for who they are. They loose their religious protective mask. This may be more beneficial than having religiously orientated politics, sell us more of their ineffective social reformism ( at best). Or more destructively, limit power to the previlaged minority, by blessing their anti - democratic actions and beards.