President Ilham Aliyev’s administration likes to cast Azerbaijan as a bastion of secularism. Yet, it’s a very bad time to be an atheist in Baku.
Radical Islam’s reach over Azerbaijani society keeps expanding, spreading a cloud of intolerance over the country. The latest sign of darkening skies is the decision of Agalar Mammadov, a professor at Khazar University and a leading Baku intellectual, to seek asylum in April in Sweden. Mammadov’s flight followed the murder late last year of another leading Azeri secularist, Rafig Tagi. Both developments are connected to Islamic radicals’ efforts to silence those who offer differing visions for how society should be organized.
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Eldar Mamedov is a political adviser to the Socialists & Democrats Group in the European Parliament, who writes in his personal capacity.