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Azerbaijan: Pressure and punishments for worship without state permission increasing?

ICC Note:

“Azerbaijan appears to be increasing raids on and threats to religious communities for worshipping without state permission,” reports Forum 18 News Service.

By Felix Corley

1/24/2011 Azerbaijan (Forum 18 News Service) – Azerbaijan appears to be increasing raids on and threats to religious communities for worshipping without state permission, Forum 18 News Service notes. A Protestant in northern Azerbaijan, Ilham Balabeyov, was in mid-January 2011 fined three weeks’ average local wages for leading unregistered worship. Police also summoned him to a police station and detained him there for all of the day his church marks Christmas. Members of a forcibly closed Sunni mosque in Gyanja have told Forum 18 that the only religious activity they are now allowed to conduct is to meet in small groups, under police surveillance, to pray in private homes. As of today (24 January) only 510 religious communities are registered. It seems that many applications are either being denied or left without answer. No legal challenges to re-registration denials have yet succeeded. All unregistered religious activity is illegal, against international human rights law.

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