There's a coffee shop in an out-of-the-way part of Baku where the walls are covered with illustrations from an early 20th century satirical magazine called Molla Nasreddin. The magazine represents a bygone era, when Azerbaijan was a font of new cultural trends in the Muslim world, pioneering such issues as female emancipation, anti-clericalism, anti-colonialism and labor rights
Iran’s ultra-hard-line "Kayhan" daily, which is said to reflect the views of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has called for a public referendum in Azerbaijan to decide whether the country should join the Islamic republic.
There is a tendency to view the tense relationship between Azerbaijan and Iran through the prism of religion. But bilateral enmity is rooted more in strategic considerations than it is in ideology or religion.
Energy-rich Azerbaijan appears to be quietly backing the idea of tightened international sanctions against its southern neighbor, Iran. But it seems that Baku won’t profit from a potential European Union oil embargo against Tehran.
The recent death of writer Rafiq Tagi has sparked a fresh debate in Azerbaijan on three of the country’s most sensitive topics -- relations with Iran, the role of Islam and the government’s track record on freedom of speech.