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Is religion persecuted in Azerbaijan? US State Department releases report

Experts report arrests and closed down mosques

Experts and human rights activists say that Azerbaijani authorities are persecuting religious activists.

As reported by, experts estimate that by the end of 2017 around 80 Azerbaijanis were jailed for their religious views. Many of them are leaders of the Muslim Unity Movement while other activists were arrested in 2015 in the village of Nardaran near Baku.

In November 2015, a clash between the members of Muslim Unity and the police broke out in the village, resulting in the deaths of seven people.

Azerbaijani experts also bring up the closure of some mosques and control over the import and dissemination of religious literature. At the same time, they note that the government encourages religious tolerance in the country.

In general, according to experts, Azerbaijani society and government are tolerant of traditional religious groups (Muslims, Christians, Jews), but unconventional groups (different trends in Islam, Baptists) are perceived as suspicious and potentially dangerous.

The majority of Azerbaijani citizens profess Islam. Azerbaijan is a secular state by law, that is, religion is completely separated from the state. The Constitution of Azerbaijan guarantees freedom of religion if it does not threaten morality or public order.

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