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Forum 18: On 10 March Shia Muslim theologian and translator Jeyhun Jafarov became the latest person to be arrested and ordered held in pre-trial detention by the National Security Ministry (NSM) secret police, apparently to punish him for exercising his freedom of religion or belief, his friends told Forum 18 News Service from Azerbaijan’s capital Baku on 12 March.
Forum 18 News Service: Members of several religious communities in Azerbaijan have expressed concern to Forum 18 News Service over texts included in a list of banned books. The list includes “Holy Book – Old Testament”, and as with other items on the list gives no details of the edition or language concerned, apart from in some cases a named author.
AzerNews: “The State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations will apply new rules for inspecting religious organizations. Developed under the law ‘On freedom of religion,’ the new rules aim to ensure the legality of the organizations’ activity and provide them with legal assistance, the State Committee reported.”
Forum 18: Tural Kuliyev, a Muslim, was fined the equivalent of a year’s salary for a
Religion Clause Blog: USCIRF wants the U.S. to question violations of religious freedom and human rights in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Russia, Azerbaijan, and Bangladesh.
Religion Clause Blog: In Juma Mosque Congregation v. Azerbaijan, (ECHR, Feb. 8, 2013), the congregation sued complaining that the government refused to re-register the congregation unless it subordinated itself to the Caucuses Muslim Board.
Religion Clause Blog: On Oct. 15, the European Union’s Venice Commission along with the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights issued a Joint Opinion (Opinion 681 / 2012) finding numerous problems with Azerbaijan’s 2011 Law on Freedom of Religious Belief.
FORUM 18: A 19-year-old Jehovah’s Witness conscientious objector to compulsory military service yesterday (15 October) lodged an appeal against his imprisonment, Forum 18 News Service has learned. Fakhraddin Mirzayev was given a one-year prison sentence on 25 September by a court in Azerbaijan’s second city Gyanja [Gäncä]. “This is the first criminal prosecution of a Jehovah’s Witness conscientious objector in Azerbaijan since Farid Mammedov was imprisoned in September 2010,” Jehovah’s Witnesses told Forum 18. “Others have been investigated, but their cases were never referred to court.”
AP: Pilgrims to one of former Soviet Georgia’s most renowned monasteries, part of which lies in Azerbaijan, are again able to visit the entire complex after an agreement between the countries’ border police.
Religion Clause: Azerbaijan Tightens Control Of Religious Activities: Forum 18 reports that on December 12, Azerbaijan’s president signed into law amendments to the country’s Criminal Code and Administrative Code that increase the penalties for violation of various religious censorship laws and add new restrictions on religious practices.
Religion Clause: According to a report by News.Az yesterday, one of the main roles of Azerbaijan’s State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations is the review of religious literature and texts that religious groups wish to distribute in the country.
VIS news – Holy See Press Office: The Agreement, which is written in English and Azeri and includes a preamble and eight articles, regulates the position of the Catholic Church in Azerbaijan.
Religion Clause: News.az reports that on Friday, Azerbaijan’s Parliament passed controversial amendments to the country’s Law on Religion. Islamic religious organizations must now report to the Caucasus Muslims Department, while other religious groups must report to the State Committee for Working with Religious Structures or to the Ministry of Justice . . .
Briwn Clowes at LifeNews.com: Of all of Azerbaijan’s contradictions and contrasts, however, the most startling is the rise of the culture of death among a people who treasure their children.
Catholic Culture: The Vatican has announced a new accord with Azerbaijan, establishing the juridical status of the Church in that country.
Radio Free Europe: “Hundreds of people protested in Azerbaijan today for the right to wear Islamic head scarves in schools, challenging the strictly secular regime.”
Trend News Agency: “Azerbaijan plans to increase fines for violations of legislation on freedom of religion: for individuals – six times, for officials – up to 16 times, Ali Huseynov, the chairman of the parliamentary committee on legal policy and state-building, said at the meeting of the parliamentary committees on human rights and on legal policy and state-building on Wednesday.”
Forum 18: “Five Baptists in Azerbaijan were yesterday (31 October) given five day jail terms after a police raid the same day on a Harvest Festival celebration in a private home, Forum 18 News Service has learned.”
Hannah Cummings reports at Baptist Press: “Several countries in the Organization for Security and Co-operation have violated religious liberty commitments set forth by the organization, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.”
Christian Post: “An evangelical megachurch in the former Soviet Union state of Azerbaijan has been kept from meeting for worship since January because of a string of bureaucratic obstacles. The Cathedral of Praise church in the capital city of Baku could not re-register with the state by the Jan. 1, 2010, deadline and was barred from renting facilities, including from other churches, for worship, reported religious freedom watchdog Forum 18.”
Forum 18: “Religious communities punished for meeting for worship in Azerbaijan, or who have had religious literature confiscated, continue to formally appeal against these human rights violations, they have told Forum 18 News Service. For example, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Muslim readers of the works of Said Nursi have demanded the return of confiscated literature. But despite repeated appeals over more than 15 years – most recently in early 2010 – for the Baptist church in Aliabad to be registered, its application has still not been granted.”
Forum 18: “Authorities in the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhichevan warned employees of state enterprises and students not to attend mosque during Shia Muslim commemorations of Ashura in December, local human rights activist Malahat Nasibova told Forum 18 News Service.”
Forum 18: “Less than two weeks before Azerbaijan’s 1 January 2010 deadline for religious communities to re-register to continue to legally exist, Forum 18 News Service has found that more than four fifths of religious communities have apparently been unable to get re-registration so far. They are liable to liquidation through the courts, unless they are able to re-register before 2010.”
Religion Clause Blog: “On May 31, 2009, Azerbaijan’s new religion law and related amendments took effect. The law requires re-registration of all religious groups by Jan. 1, 2010 . . . ”
Religion Clause Blog: “Forum 18 reported yesterday that in Nagorno-Karabakh, the General Court of First Instance in Stepanakert has upheld the denial of registration under the country’s Religion Law to Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
Forum 18: “Azerbaijan’s repressive new Religion Law, and amendments to both the Criminal Code and the Administrative Code came into force on 31 May, Forum 18 has learned. New ‘offences’ – such as more severe censorship – and new punishments are introduced for religious activities and organisations the government does not like. All registered religious organisations must re-register by 1 January 2010, the third time re-registration has been demanded in less than twenty years.”
Hat tip: Religion Clause Blog