Official religious freedom is tempered by reactions against “foreign” religions and fears of Islamist extremism. Christian work is increasingly opposed, especially through obstruction and intimidation, if not outright persecution. Most Azerbaijani Muslims are Shi’a, a trait shared with neighbouring Iran.
Racial discrimination also affects religious freedom because the Christian population is almost entirely ethnic Armenian and Russian while the Muslim population is largely ethnic Azeri. A 1992 religious law that initially granted more freedoms has been amended several times with restrictions.
The State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations was formed in 2001. It demands the registration of religious communities and censors religious literature. Christian groups that do not register are considered illegal and often face discrimination.
Please pray for Azerbaijan.
- As Azerbaijan remains a politically unstable nation, pray for stability and a genuine effort to make peace in and around Azerbaijan.
- Pray for increased commitment to fundamental freedoms and for a proper perspective of the gospel message that Azerbaijanis have negatively associated with Russia and other foreign cultures.
- Pray that Christian witness to the majority Muslim population may be with humility, wisdom and love.