Category: News



21 February

Haji Shahin Hasanly

According to the Turan Agency, Haji Shahin Hasanly, a well-known Shiite theologian and akhund of the “Meshadi Dadash” mosque, has been appointed as a host of the “Awareness of Truth” program on the state TV channel “Madaniyat” (Culture). He replaced the previous host an Academician Vasim Mammadaliyev, the head of the Department of Oriental Studies at Baku State University. The program is aired on Thursdays for 15 minutes. Haji Shahin Hasanly is one of the influential and popular theologians of Azerbaijan, there are thousands of people gathering to listen to his sermons. Then recordings of these sermons are distributed on social networks and handed over by believers to each other. He is also the plenipotentiary representative of the Head of the Caucasus Muslims Department in Baku city.

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12 March

The State Committee on Work with Religious Organizations (SCWRO) registered 16 Islamic communities from different regions across the Republic (mostly in Shiites and south regions) and one Christian community that was based in Baku in 2008 and created by the Association of Christian Evangelic Churches Alov (Azerb. “Flame”).

Zulfuqar Mikayilzade

Elchin Gasymov

Elman Agayev

16 March

On 16 March, the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev signed an order on pardoning 431 convicts. Among those pardoned there were 51 political prisoners, including believers who had been arrested in connection with the Nardaran events in November 2015, such as a well-known Shiite theologian Zulfuqar Mikayilzade (sentenced on 6 December 2017 to 17 years imprisonment), the deputy chairman of the party Movement Muslim Unity Elchin Gasymov (sentenced on 6 December 2017 to 15 years imprisonment) and  an activist of this organization Elman Agayev (sentenced on 6 December 2017 to 13 years imprisonment). The order of the Head of State has been published on the President of Azerbaijan website.

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29 April

On 29 April 2019, the State Committee of the Azerbaijan Republic on Work with Religious Organizations (SCWRO) Head Mubariz Qurbanly said in his speech at the Board of Muslim of Caucasus (BMC) that “introduction to multiculturalism”, which was previously an optional subject, will be studied as a main subject in higher education institutions starting from the new academic year. He also indicated that the manuals on this subject are going to be prepared under the guidance of the Department of Inter-Ethnic Relations, Multiculturalism and Religious Affairs at the Presidential Administration in the Baku International Multiculturalism Center along with the State Committee for Work with Religious Structures.  The textbook consists of two parts; a section on multiculturalism and a section on religion, ethnic and moral values.

The Azerbaijani society got outrage by this report. As a result, the SCWRO press service urgently issued a press release, in which the Head’s statement was clarified in a little more details. It explained the purpose of including a subject in the curriculum. The students were to be informed about all religions, with an emphasis on Islam, also, they will be introduced to national moral values of the country, the necessity of their protection and the policy of the Azerbaijani state in this direction. Besides, all students should be informed about religious radicalism, radical religious currents and their propaganda methods. It was especially underlined that the authors of the newly published textbook were the state structure employees, theologians, teachers of higher school and other experts of the field.

As for the pupils of secondary school, it was noted that all necessary measures have been taken to educate the younger generation in accordance with the national moral values of the Azerbaijani society. At the same time, the subject Hayat bilgisi (“Azerb. “Knowledge of life”) has been already taught in the secondary schools across the country for several years. The pupils have the opportunity to get acquainted with the subject that concerned some information on religion. Nowadays, as part of this discipline, there is a work to expand the religious issue in the curriculum of this subject. In other words, instead of studying religion in secondary schools, it will be broadening the horizons of schoolchildren in this field in order for them to obtain primary knowledge in the subject of religion.

However, it had no impact on the debate in society. On 29 April, actually the very same day, it was another statement made by the leadership of the Ministry of Education, which confirmed that starting from the next academic year, the 4-8 grades pupils would be studying according to the new textbook “Knowledge of Life” but it was pointed out that the issue of studying religion in the secondary schools as a separate subject was not going to be on the agenda.

With regard to the higher education institutions, it was underlined that such subjects as “Religious Studies, “Islamic Studies” and “History of Religions” have been already taught. At the same time, in accordance with the decision of the Minister of Education, Jeyhun Bayramov, “On changes in the educational programs of specialties at the bachelor’s level”, the subject “History of Religions” will be included in the curriculum of “Introduction to Multiculturalism” starting from the academic year 2019-2020.


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01 May

Haji Fuad Nurullayev, the deputy chairman of the Board of Muslim of Caucasus (BMC) informed the agency that a decision has been made to establish madrasa or religious colleges under the BMC. The BMC representative remarked that spiritual education institutions will have a two- or four-year educational program, “These colleges will operate at mosques subordinated to the BMC. Several madras’s and courses have been already functioning, however, about ten spiritual colleges are planned to be opened in the country, including the Heydar Islamic College, the Zaqatala Islamic College, the Ganja Islamic College, the Lankaran Islamic College, the Guba Islamic College, the Nardaran Islamic College, the Bibi Heybat Islamic College, and the Nakhchivan Islamic College”.

24 May

On Friday 24 May, the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev signed an order on providing financial assistance to the religious structures. According to the order, it will be allocated two million manat (almost 1.180,000 USD) from the Reserve 2019 Fund of the President of Azerbaijan to the Caucasian Muslims Department and 350,000 manat (more than 206,000 USD) to the Baku religious structures and Azerbaijan Diocese of Russian Orthodox Church. It is planned to allocate 350,000 manat (over 206,000 USD) to the religious community of the Mountain Jews of Baku, 150,000 manat (over 88,000 USD) to the religious community of Ashkenazi Jews of Baku, 150,000 manat (over 88,000 USD) to the Apostolic Prefecture of the Catholic Church in Azerbaijan, and 150,000 manat (over 88,000 USD) to the Albano-Udin Christian Community of Azerbaijan.

Also, in order to provide the financial support to other non-Islamic religious communities, it will be allocated 100,000 manat (more than 59,000 USD) to the Spiritual Values Promotion Fund under the State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations.

The Ministry of Finance was instructed to provide funding in the amount specified in this order.


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13 June

The Chairman of the State Committee on Work with Religious Organizations (SCWRO) of Azerbaijan, Mubariz Qurbanly, said that there was a monitoring of the population’s attendance at religious rites in mosques in Azerbaijan. According to him, the monitoring revealed that approximately 7-8% of Azerbaijan’s population took part in religious rites in mosques, “The results conducted in 134 mosques in Baku were almost similar. However, it does not mean that the population of the country has different religious preferences or does not observe religious rites. People simply do their religious rituals at home and this is their personal choice. There is no pressure here,” he concluded.

Further, the head of SCWRO added that at present imams appointed by the Board of Muslim of Caucasus operate in all mosques, “Two imams are appointed to perform the general prayer, and they are rotating in charge of the rite. In some mosques there are imam and his assistant. Today, there are no mosques in Baku, where there were no appointed imams. Some people have problems with their documents but we try to make sure that they function in accordance with the law”.


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16 July

According to the agency Turan, a group of mothers whose children had been accused in connection with the events in Ganja in July 2018 tried to hold a protest action demanding the justice for their sons; the action took place at the main square of the city. They strongly believed that their sons had not been guilty and the charges had been fabricated. The mothers demanded an investigation of the tortures subjected to their sons, an objective trial and the release of the arrested.

The protesters were detained and taken to the Ganja Nizami District Police Department and released some time later.


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01 August 

On 01 August, the parents of the accused in the “Ganja case” headed to the President Administration building in order to meet with Fuad Alaskarov, the President Assistant for Security and Law Enforcement Affairs. But the meeting did not take place. Then they have gathered in front of the Baku Court of Appeal, and wrote a petition on the name of the President Ilham Aliyev urging him not to allow «prosecution of innocent people”.

14 August

Participants of action

The relatives of the prisoners of the “Ganja case” held a demonstration in front of the Investigative Department of the Prosecutor General’s Office on Serious Crimes in Baku. They demanded the cessation of criminal cases against their relatives and the investigation of the facts of torture. The protesters declared that the charges against their relatives had been fabricated in order to characterize the events in Ganja as a religious and political conspiracy. The protesters representatives were officially called to the General Prosecutor’s Office.

21 August


Protest action of the mothers whose children were convicted in the “Ganja case”, 21 August

There was a protest demonstration organized by a group of mothers whose children had been convicted in the July 2018 Ganja riots in Baku. Several dozen of women attempted to march through the Shahid Alley (a cemetery in the mountainous part of the capital where martyrs or in Azerbaijani “shahids” of Soviet troops had been buried on 20 January 1990, as well as those killed in the Karabakh war – author’s note) to the President Administration Office to express their dissatisfaction about “the fabrication of  judicial process and the punishment of innocent people”. Some of them were holding banners “Liberate my son or arrest me too!”

One of the women was indignant saying, “ My son was sitting quietly on the bench when he was arrested. He did not injure or kill anyone. He was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment. Could it be like that?”

Another one was exclaiming, “For the last 13 months since our sons’ arrests, we have been suffering and walking through the streets in vain. What an arbitrariness! The bureaucrats are fighting between them but we are suffering. The event in Ganja is indeed the result of fights between the authority croups; they should manage themselves without us, how simple people could help them?”

People gathered for the protest action were also outraged by the biased reporting on REAL TV, where religious radicals were again accused of organizing riots. Besides, the report demonstrated the investigative materials, which proved the political request, as noted by the mothers of those under arrest. They threatened to sue Mirshahin Agayev, the author of the TV reportage.

The police officers called to the scene stopped the women’s march to the President Administration Office. One of the participants, Sevinj Huseynova, was detained and taken to the 9th Police Station in Baku. At the same time, two mothers-protesters were invited to a meeting at the President’s Office.

27 August


Relatives protest in front of the State Executive Power building in Ganja, 26 August

The relatives of the convicts in the “Ganja case” held another protest action on 26 August, but that time it took place in Ganja. They marched in the direction to the building of the City Hall and the Ganja Court of Appeal, shouting “The end of false accusations” and protesting against the conviction of those who had been arrested on fabricated cases.

The accused Oqtay Huseynzade’s mother, said in indignation to the correspondent, “How it could be? Why did the public prosecutor demand life imprisonment for my innocent son? After all, not a single proof of his guilt was provided in the court.”

The Mayor Niyazi Bayramov, the Head of Ganja Police Headquarters Akbar Ismayilov and a representative of the Ganja Court of Appeal assisted the meeting with the representatives mothers-protestors, who clearly expressed their demand to release their arrested sons. The official response was, “You shouldn’t worry, go home, and everything will be fine.”

However, the next day, on 27 August, all the participants of the action were summoned to the Nizami District Police Department of Ganja where they were obliged to explain the reasons for the action and their dissatisfaction.

28 August


Protest action of the parents whose children were convicted in the “Ganja case”, 28 August

The parents of those arrested in July 2018 in connection to the Ganja held another protest in front of the President Administration building in Baku on 28 August. Several dozen women marched demanding to release their children who were “innocent and arrested on trumped-up charges”.

“What are they guilty of? They were accused of serious crimes without any evidence. We can no longer tolerate this injustice. Doesn’t the President see all that? Who else can we tell about this disaster? Our children have been in prison for a year and two months. We’d rather be kicked out of the country,” one of the protesters said.

The police demanded the journalists to stop covering the rally. At some point the parents were invited to the President Administration office.

Parents of those arrested regularly organize similar actions in Baku and Ganja, and as a result, a number of the convicts have been granted reduced terms of imprisonment.


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09 September

Rza Aghali

Ziya Tahirov

Rza Aghali and Ziya Tahirov were released at the end of their sentences. He had been arrested along with the head of the religious website, journalist Araz Quliyev, during a religious rally in Masally in the south of the country on 8 September 2012, and sentenced to seven years imprisonment in April 2013.The guilt of the defendants wasn’t proven  either during the investigation or at the trial, and the human rights activists included them in the list of political prisoners.

As for Araz Quliyev, he remains in jail because he has been sentenced to 8 years imprisonment.

27 September


High school graduates of Azerbaijan should have knowledge not only about Islam, but also about other religions. For this purpose, changes will be made in the educational programs. Mubariz Qurbanly, the Head of the State Committee on Work with Religious Organizations (SCWRO) of Azerbaijan, said it in an interview with the state media on 27 September.

At the same time, he noted that work had been underway to establish the Islamic colleges in Baku and the country’s regions. “Negotiations are being held with the Caucasus Muslims Department, after which the colleges will be operating under the Institute of Theology. The students who successfully graduate from the colleges will continue their education at the Institute of Theology,” Qurbanly said. It should be noted that the Institute of Theology was established under the SCWRO in April 2018.

It will actually replace the Baku Islamic University under the Caucasian Muslims Department, where admission is going to be stopped this year.

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03 October

Leyla Ismayilzade

The lawsuit against Leyla Ismayilzade, the wife of the theologian Tale Bagirzade, initiated on 27 September, was dismissed, lawyer Fakhraddin Mehdiyev told to the agency Turan. According to him, on 3 October the investigator invited Ismayilzade and announced that the case was dismissed due to lack of evidence.

The case was filed by the Investigative Department of the Ministry of Justice under Article 317-1.1 (bringing to the places of detention of prohibited items) of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan Republic.  According to the version of the Penitentiary Service, the fact took place on 21 March, when a smartphone was found in the things of Leyla Ismayilzade, who came to meet her husband in Gobustan prison.

Then the woman explained that the smartphone belongs to her son, who came with her and the child watches cartoons on him. The phone was not carried inside the prison, however, after five months, the Ministry of Justice suddenly decided to files a lawsuit, and also suddenly closed it.


21 October

The State Committee of the Azerbaijan Republic on Work with Religious Organizations (SCWRO) has released statistics on religious communities that were registered in the country. for the first 9 months of 2019. According to SCWRO, within first 9 months of 2019 were registered 34 religious communities.

From a confessional point of view, 31 of them are Islamic and 3 are non-Islamic.

Altogether, after the process of state registration of religious communities on 1 September 2009, 942 religious communities were registered in Azerbaijan. From a confessional point of view, 907 of which are Islamic, and 35 represent other confessions, including 24 Christian, 8 Jewish, 2 Baha’i, and 1 Krishnaite.

Since the beginning of the process of state registration of religious educational institutions (colleges) in 2017, 10 religious educational institutions have been registered.

Also, today in Azerbaijan there are 2.250 mosques, 136 of which are located in Baku. In addition, there are 14 churches and 7 synagogues in the country, as well as 748 sanctuaries and places of worship, 25 of those are in the Baku-Absheron region.


31 October

Siyavush Heydarov

According to the Trend Agency, the SCWRO deputy chairman, Siyavush Heydarov, made a statement that more than 400 citizens of Azerbaijan who joined the radical groups since 2011 have been deprived of their citizenship. He added that these individuals are no longer able to return to Azerbaijan.

“Over 110 individuals have been brought to justice. The competent authorities are working to identify and bring to the country other people who had been associated with these groups. It is estimated that more than 1.000 people have joined these groups so far. More than 300 of them have been reported dead. But the others have taken refuge in foreign countries. Furthermore, women and children are being held in Syrian and Iraqi camps. The work is underway to bring them back to the country, and some of them have already been transferred,” Heydarov said.

Furthermore, S. Heydarov noted that there are also measures taken for identification and returning the homeless children to the country, “There are children from the different regions of Azerbaijan, their identities are being determined. However, there is such a complicated moment as identifying these kids’ parents. Some women, especially the ones who lost their husbands, left Azerbaijan and gave births to the children who had been conceived from citizens of other countries. It is also necessary to define the issue of their citizenship. There are also those who had been brought to the criminal charges. But at the moment, the serious steps are taken towards the identification and transferring those children who had been deprived of parental care back to the country”. According to his words, there have been no cases of individuals from Azerbaijan who joined the radical groups for the last two years, on the contrary, there has recently been an outflow from these groups.

Further, the SCWRO deputy chairman noted that in 2019, there were no hidden activities or any cases of illegal activity of religious communities in Azerbaijan. He emphasized, “The activity of religious communities is quite seriously controlled. There are no more Sects in Azerbaijan, which used to walk around from one apartment to another, attracting people to some religious movements. Previously, the main discontent of the State Committee was related to non-Islamic religious movements. By splitting into certain sects, they had been violating the law. These sects used to be the tools in the hands of those who did not like Azerbaijan”.

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08 November

Participants of action

The relatives of the prisoners of the “Ganja case” held a demonstration in front of the President Administration building in Baku. They demanded the cessation of criminal cases against their relatives and the investigation of the facts of torture. The protesters declared that the charges against their relatives had been fabricated in order to characterize the events in Ganja as a religious and political conspiracy.

The police officers had violently dispersed protesters.


14 November

The Second Summit of World Religious Leaders in Baku

The Second Summit of World Religious Leaders starts its work in Baku. The summit which participated together leaders and representatives of more than 70 countries from five continents, 25 traditional religions and religious movements, including about 500 high-level representatives from 10 authoritative international organizations, as well as heads and religious leaders of constituent entities of the Russian Federation.

The event will feature discussions on topics as “Azerbaijan’s exemplary role in promoting multiculturalism, tolerance and interreligious solidarity”, “Sheikh-ul-Islam Allahshukur Pashazade’s contributions to the development of interfaith and inter-civilizational cooperation”, “Religious leaders against terrorism, aggression, xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and Christianophobia”, “The importance of the joint activities of religious leaders, state, scientific and public figures in protecting the rights of women and children, educating young people”.

The Baku Declaration will be adopted following the summit. The summit will continue its work until 15 November.


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