Religious extremism in AzerbaijanAzerbaijan is a predominantly Muslim country. According to, The World Factbook 2015, 96.9 percent of the population is Muslims. Shia Muslims make approximately 85 percent while Sunni 15 percent of total Muslim population. The rest of the residents (around 3%) is made up of mostly Christians and Jews, as well as representatives of non-traditional sects (Krishnaism, etc.). Thus, the Shiites form the majority in the south of the country along the border with Iran and Turkey, as well as in the central part and on the Absheron Peninsula. The Sunnis constitute the majority in the north of the country along the border with Russia, although many Sunnis live in the capital and in a number of central areas. Moreover, the percentage of those attending mosques is very low: fewer than 20% of the Azerbaijanis attend religious places regularly and about 40% do it during the special holidays according to the Caucasian Barometer.

According to another survey of the Caucasian Barometer, the percentage of the Azerbaijanis confessing that religion is vital for them rose, while the number of those considering religion non-important has been reduced.

In the end of 2015, new amendments were made to the legal court concerning the religion and a law on religious extremism was adopted. These amendments were made public only a few days before they were adopted in parliament, Forum 18 reported. The religion law amendments limit flags and slogans to certain places.

As indicated in “The National Security Concept of the Republic of Azerbaijan” and recent amendments on the ‘Administrative Code’ demonstrate religious radicalism is in agenda of the national policy of the government and it attaches great importance to this threat.

 

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