Islamists Go to a War-Path
Muslims demanded release of Elchin Gasymov, Deputy Chairman of the Muslim Unity Movement. According to the official version, he was detained for hooliganism. Police dispelled the protestors and detained several of them. Under the court’s ruling, Elchin Gasymov has been sentenced to 30-day imprisonment pursuant to the article “resistance to the police.
Javad Javadov, Gasymov’s lawyer, says the verdict was brought without his participation and he was not allowed to meet tat-a-tat with the defendant. He stated he would appeal the court’s rule.
The State Committee for religious structures stated, the Muslim Unity Movement had not undergone any official registration and was covering its political goals with religion.
Taleh Bagirzadeh, theologian and the Movement Chairman, was beaten at the police station on November 3, following an attempt to organize a mass visit to a grave of national hero, Mubariz Ibrahimov. According to the Muslim activists, Elchin Gasymov sharply criticized the authorities in the Nardaran Mosque after the incident and it became a real reason for his detention.
We have asked Eldar Zeynalov, the head of the Azerbaijani Human Rights Center, to comment on the situation.
“The developments in Sabunchi are not a spontaneous protest as it seems at the first sight. It is an organized test of the new movement’s forces. Authorities’ response, staking on force, cannot be justified. A well-thought ideological struggle is required so that the population would prefer a secular model, but not the Shari-based ruling. Otherwise, repressions will only fuel this movement, as it happened in Iran.
This movement is not so much a threat to the authorities, but rather to the secular nationhood. Shortly after release from prison, the movement’s leader gave an interview, in which he assessed the separation of the religion from the state as a mistake. He said that a situation in XIX century (when Sharia was applied) was an example for his movement. This idea cannot be recognized as democratic, given the fact that we are pulled two centuries back.
The main claim to the Movement is quite different, it lies within the legal dimension. It was voiced by the Head of the Caucasus Muslims Office, A. Pashazadeh, who suggested the Movement should “make up its mind. Under the law, political parties and public organizations shall not be engaged in religion and vice versa, religious structures shall not deal with politics.
The Movement was officially set up at the beginning of 2015, in prison. It is symbolic, since the first rallies (for example, the leader’s trips to districts to deliver preaches or a protest rally in Sabunchi) resulted in confrontation with the law.
It seems that having begun with violations of the Law on Religious Freedom and clashes with police, the Movement decided to oppose itself to secular authorities for self-promotion at the expense of possible repressions against it and, possibly, to increase the political prisoners’ list.
It should be noted that the secular opposition has been trying to use the Islamist movement since “Arab Spring of 2010-2011, considering Islamists to be a convenient instrument for elimination of “Yeni Azerbiajan Party. Probably, the lessons from Iranian revolution of 1970s have been forgotten.