Almost all Azeri count themselves as Muslims, although by no means all practice their religion. About 70 percent are Shi’ites and 30 percent are Sunnis. Azerbaijan’s Shia Muslims do not apply the strict form of Shia that governs life in Iran. Drinking alcohol, for example, is permitted, and women do not have to use a veil.
The most important Christian church is the Russian Orthodox. The Armenian Apostolic Church now exists only in Nagorno-Karabakh. In the countryside, customs still exist, originating in older religions that were practiced prior to the arrival of Islam in the 600s. Examples are reverence for fire, ancestors and holy places.
During the Soviet period (1920–1991) the state propagated for atheism and almost all mosques were closed. Religion was kept alive through prayer meetings in private homes and other underground activities.
After the fall of communism, new mosques were built with the help of Middle Eastern countries, including Iran. At first, Iranian mullahs’ presence in Azerbaijan did not appear to worry Azerbaijan authorities, but in recent years Iran has been accused of undermining militant Islamism in Azerbaijan (see Current Politics), while conservative Muslim groups believe the state tends to label them as Wahhabites.
In principle, religious freedom exists, but since 2001 foreigners are prevented from missionary and religious communities must be registered with the state. Some smaller communities have complained that the registration process is whimsical and sometimes delayed by the authorities.
- Countryaah: Population statistics for 2020 and next 30 years in Azerbaijan, covering demographics, population graphs, and official data for growth rates, population density, and death rates.
In the first years after the fall of communism, they ruled against sending from various Christian communities and from the Hare Krishna movement, Bahai with several flocked to Azerbaijan to mission.
Without face mask threatens fine
From now on, a fine is awaiting anyone who does not wear a face mask against coronary infection in Azerbaijan; Parliament makes a decision that the President will adopt with his signature the following day. Shops can open at the same time, but not amusement rooms. Where congestion is considered to be congested, the police enter, for example, on buses and bus stops. The fines may extend up to a corresponding amount over a thousand kronor. The country officially has almost 6,000 cases of infection and about 70 deaths in covid-19 have been reported.
Failure to release convicted murderer
The European Court of Justice (European Court of Human Rights) decides on a case involving the murder of an Armenian officer in 2004. According to the court, Azerbaijan violated the Council of Europe Convention on Human Rights when the murderer was released (see September 2012). Armenian Gurgen Margaryan was murdered in 2004 when he was on a NATO led course in Hungary by a course participant from Azerbaijan, Ramil Safarov. There must have been disagreement between the men who lived in the home countries’ conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. In Hungary, Safarov was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2006, but he was eventually given a clearance to serve the sentence in his home country. Once transferred to Baku, Safarov was immediately pardoned and elevated to hero. Hungary avoids criticism of the ruling, which can however be appealed.
Oil countries are reducing production
Opec member countries and several non-member oil-producing states agree to reduce their production by a total of 9.7 million barrels per day to raise crude oil prices. Azerbaijan is one of the countries that joins the goal. The decrease corresponds to almost a tenth of world production, but it is still uncertain if they succeed in their ambitions to get more paid for the oil. The severe restrictions imposed by the world’s countries to counter the corona pandemic have caused global demand to collapse, for example on aviation fuel.
EU support against the corona crisis
As part of the EU’s response to the global corona crisis, a support package is promised to the six so-called Eastern Partnership countries Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova. The support includes a total of EUR 140 million for immediate healthcare needs, and in addition EUR 700 million is redistributed so that the money can be used to counter severe societal effects of the crisis. The planned activities are in cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO).
The first death in a pandemic
the 12th of March
The country’s first death in the covid-19 viral disease is confirmed. The following day, among other things, crowds, such as weddings, are banned from restricting the spread of the corona virus. Museums and entertainment venues are closed, sports competitions are put on ice. Schools have been closed since before, as has the border with Iran. It is precisely Iran, one of the worst-affected pandemic countries, visited by the woman who will be the first to die in Azerbaijan.
The police stop protesting the election
Police seize a number of members of the opposition parties Equality Party and Alternative Republican Party as they attempt to stage a manifestation outside the Election Commission’s premises in protest of the result in the February 9 parliamentary elections, when President Aliyev’s party won a majority of seats in parliament. The election has been criticized by the opposition and international election observers who have noticed a number of irregularities, including cheating with ballots and undue pressure on voters and candidates. According to the Equality Party, 55 people were arrested, including party leader Arif Gadjily as well as leader of Alternative Republican Party Ilgar Mammadov.
The president’s party wins controversial elections
According to preliminary reports, President İlham Aliyev’s New Azerbaijan (YAP) support party wins a superior victory in the recent parliamentary elections. The party looks to get 72 out of 125 seats, which in that case is 2 seats more than in the 2015 elections. Several opposition parties boycott the election, citing the government’s difficulty in running their election campaigns. They call YAP’s victory a total falsarium and demand re-election. Also election observers from the OSCE and the Council of Europequestions the result and points out that there have been numerous cases of fake ballots, people who have voted multiple times, threats and pressure on voters, candidates and observers. The fact that the opposition has been shut out from the main media, such as all TV channels, is also criticized. The only opposition politician elected to Parliament is Erkin Gadirli of the Alternative Republican Party (ReAl). Other parties and candidates who pass the barrier are believed to be loyal to Aliyev.