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
Although Azerbaijan was the birthplace of the magazine, arguably the country affected most by its essays and illustrations was Iran. At one time Jalil Mammadqulu-zadeh, the editor of Molla Nasreddin, even moved its editorial offices to Tabriz, a city with a heavily Azeri population in the north of Iran. The ideas propagated by the magazine even contributed to the intellectual foundations of Iran's Constitutional Revolution of 1905.
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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.