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.
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.