One More Believer Arrested

On 22 February, theologian Sardar Babayev was charged under Article 168-1.3 (violation of the requirements of conducting religious advocacy, religious rites and ceremonies) of the Criminal Code and was ordered detained in Masalli Regional Court, lawyer Javad Javadov has said.

According to the lawyer, Head of Masalli Region Executive Power Rafil Huseynov had filed a complaint a month ago for the initiation of a criminal case against theologian Sardar Babayev. On 22 February morning, Sardar Babayev was summoned by police and was subsequently arrested under a court decision. “All this happened through a gross violation of the right of defence. The charge itself does not have any legal basis, either,” the lawyer commented.

The prosecution claims that Babayev conducted religious rites in a Masalli mosque, despite having studied in a foreign country.

“Sardar Babayev has also received religious education in Azerbaijan. He had studied religion in Iran before this law entered into force. The law, in turn, does not have a retrospective effect. Besides, the majority of the leaders of the Caucasian Muslims Office have studied abroad, but they also perform religious rites in Azerbaijan. In this respect, Article 168 of the Criminal Code is defective and is in contradiction with Article 9 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion) of the European Convention on Human Rights,” the lawyer added.

Note that, Head of Masalli Region Executive Power Rafil Huseynov is a journalist by profession. He has demanded that founder and chief editor Miralam Hashimov be criminally convicted for writing critical articles in Masalli region and has brought a private prosecution against chief editor Fikrat Faramazoglu.

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