The recent murder of Rafiq Tagi, a staunchly secularist journalist in Azerbaijan who was killed by suspected pro-Iranian extremists, has exposed dangerous fault lines in Azerbaijani society.
Tagi died from stab wounds suffered during a mid-November attack in downtown Baku. No one has been apprehended in connection with the killing. Since then, attention has mainly focused on discussion, or the lack thereof, about the role of Islam in Azerbaijani society.
Less examined, but very important, is the government’s attitude toward a secularist political model. Officials in Baku have long taken pride in Azerbaijan’s image as a pillar of secularism in the Muslim world. A troubling aspect of the Tagi tragedy, then, is that officials have never condemned the murder. Instead of taking a loud, public position, President Ilham Aliyev’s administration dispatched Ali Hasanov, a top presidential aide, to Iran where reportedly he expressed Baku's displeasure about alleged Iranian support for radical Islamists in Azerbaijan.
To read the full story
Eldar Mamedov is a political adviser to the Socialists & Democrats Group in the European Parliament, who writes in his personal capacity.