Both Iran and Turkey have a troubling track record of actively persecuting individuals on the basis of religious affiliation or belief, structurally blocking religious freedom, and denying religious minorities access to equal social, political and economic opportunities. It is commonly said that one can scrutinize the political vision behind contemporary Iran starting at the very name of the country: the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Iranian Constitution provides equality to every citizen to a limited degree. Drawing from nineteenth century European secularism, the founders saw religion as a hindrance to modernization, but recognized that it was too powerful to escape. A comparison of Iran and Turkey reveals some startling insights as to why states see religious freedom and ethno-religious minorities as a security threat. In both countries, a host of theological and secular beliefs and assumptions serve to develop racial constructs as well as narratives of unity and differentiation of the society from the 'other'.