As part of an effort to contain radical Islam, officials in Azerbaijan are carrying out an anti-Iran campaign on state-controlled news outlets. The media blitz follows the recent arrest of leading members of the banned Islamic Party of Azerbaijan, a group believed to be sympathetic to Iran.
In the weeks following the January 7 Islamic Party arrests, Azerbaijan’s national television channels aired prime-time news reports accusing Iran of interfering in Azerbaijan’s domestic affairs, supporting fundamentalists and fostering close ties with Baku’s longtime foe, Armenia. Interviews with “ordinary people” who criticized Tehran’s allegedly “negative” behavior toward Azerbaijan were also prominently featured.
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Shahin Abbasov is a freelance reporter based in Baku and a board member of the Open Society Assistance Foundation-Azerbaijan.