Religious intolerance in Azerbaijan worries local Sunni muslims
Mosque demolitions in Baku undermine tolerance claims and lead some to accuse the government of clinging onto the Soviet system of keeping a tight rein on believers, Leyla Amirova reports for IWPR.
Great banners across Baku’s streets celebrate the city’s role as “Islamic Culture Capital 2009”, but away from the gaze of visiting delegates, Azerbaijan’s authorities have taken a tough stance on Muslims who dare to worship without their permission.
On 11 May, Salman Aliev, a 50-year-old oil worker, said he was witness to the destruction of a mosque on the Oil Rocks, an offshore drilling settlement built on stilts and rock where 5,000 men work surrounded by the Caspian Sea.
“In the morning I heard this loud noise of machines from the direction of the mosque. When I got there, I saw how the wall of the mosque was being destroyed with a crane,” he said.
The mosque had been a well-built two-storey structure, with a minaret, a dome and air-conditioning but, while Aliev watched, the workers reduced it to a pile of rubble.
“They were not doing this because they wanted to. There was an order from the management, and so as to not lose their jobs they did this,” he said.
On the eve, Vahagn Chakhalian’s protector of rights Stepan Voskanian visited Tbilisi to meet the activist. At the place of confinement, the police prevented Stepan Voskanian to meet the accused.
Vahagn Chakhalian is illegally deprived of freedom more than 7 months at Tbilisi #8 jail. The police officers told Stepan Voskanian that the latter’s license given on September 5, 2008, was not valid
“The license can be given once and consequently it does not lose its validity until the end of the trial. I am sure that all of these is specially planned, and aims at carrying on the lawsuit without the Armenian attorney. I think that Chakhalian will be sentenced illegally”, Vahagn Chakhalian’s protector of rights Stepan Voskanian told “Azg” daily.
During the recent times the representatives of the Armenian National Congress and L. Ter-Petrosyan personally are making efforts to liven up their movement, which is in evident crisis.
Whereas as a result of the discussions the Neo-Bolsheviks came to a conclusion that the lack of finance is the main reason for such sad situation. That is why they decided to solve the issue of finance before restarting their demonstration stage from February 2009. In particular they have started to “legalize” the suspicious sums received from the USA by means of different strange organizations, to show the international community and the Armenian society that they carry out their activity with “clean” money.
During its yesterday’s session the NA Temporary Committee investigating the results of March 1-2 developments touched upon the circumstances of the death cases and the results of the forensic expertise. For that purpose the committee invited the Director of the Scientific-Practical Center of Forensic Expertise Shota Vardanyan.
Many people argue about the issue of “why did Georgian president Mikhail Sahakashvily invade South Ossia just before the Olympic games in Beijing?” But it is a big question whether the Georgian President takes decision by himself.
Actually if we observe the results of the invasion of the Georgian army into South Ossetia from the point of view of Georgian nationalist, then we will come to a conclusion that Sahakashvily is either a Russian agent or he has mental problems.
The only issue included in the agenda of yesterday’s session of the interim parliamentary committee investigating the March 1-2 events and their causes concerned the disclosure of the details and circumstances of the incident that took place on the Theatrical Square in the morning of March 1 and the clarification of the operations of the police officers. To this end, Major-General ALEXANDER AFYAN, Deputy Chief of the Police, was invited to the committee session.
68-year-old linguist Novruzali Mammadov, Deputy President of the Talysh Cultural Center, Editor-in-Chief of the Talysh-language newspaper Tolyshi Sado (Voice of the Talysh), and Head of a Department at the Philology Institute of the Academy of Science of Azerbaijan, was charged with high treason and sentenced to 10 years in prison in Baku, Azerbaijan. Charges were also pressed against the paper’s administrator Elman Guliyev who was sentenced to 6 years. Initially, the prosecutor sought 12 and 8-year sentences for the two individuals.