10 January

The press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan stated in the report that on 10 January during a joint raid of the police, the State Security Service and the State Committee on Work with Religious Organizations (SCWRO) it was revealed as indicated “the fact of organization of illegal religious meetings by nine citizens of the Russian Federation” in one of the houses in Binagadi district of Baku. In the course of search of the house, law enforcement officers found and seized five religious books (propagating Christianity), 113 CDs and 28,000 business cards.

The press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs said in a statement “In accordance with the Article 515 “Violation of creation and religious structures activity regulation” of the Code of Administrative Offences, a protocol has been drawn up with regard to Russian citizens who were deported from the country”. However, the SCWRO report said that the protocol had been sent to the court, the detainees had been fined and only then deported to Russia. The press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs does not provide any other details of that incident. But according to the data provided by the staff of the Institute for Peace and Democracy (IPD) in Azerbaijan, that incident was related to “Jehovah’s Witnesses” supporters who came to Azerbaijan from Russia.

25 January

A year ago, on 28 January 2018, SCWRO banned publication of the book “This is no in Islam” by the famous theologian Elshad Miri, in which the author examined myths existing in Islam and Koran (there is no child or temporary marriage, magic, etc. in Islam). In response, the theologian, having regarded the ban on publishing his book as a censorship and violation of freedom of speech, sued SCWRO. As expected, Elshad Miri lost the case. But he did not give up. During this time, his book was published in Azerbaijani language in Turkey, and in Russian in Kyrgyzstan but now SCWRO did not give permission to sell the book. The theologian kept fighting and on 25 January 2019, Elshad Miri sent an appeal addressed to SCWRO requesting a permission to publish and sell the book. In response, according to Modern.az, SCWRO stated that the book contains provocative and offensive statements that distort the religious situation in the country and disturb the believers’ feelings. Therefore, the SCWRO experts gave a negative feedback last year, based on which the book was not allowed for publication and sale.