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Abdolkarim Soroush, one of Iran's best-known intellectuals, caused a storm of controversy when he published a series of articles in a popular Iranian cultural magazine.

In these articles, he defined a branch of knowledge that he called 'religious knowledge', and tried to explain it using the principles of philosophy of natural and social sciences. This prompted widespread outrage at his interpretation of Islam, which resulted in six years in exile that ended last week when Soroush returned to Iran.

In an interview with Ehsan Masood on the eve of his departure, he discusses how his experience in Iran has influenced his views about science. And he argues that science — or more specifically 'thinking' — cannot progress under totalitarian regimes.

Link to interview in New Scientist