Freedom of association under Art. 11 ECHR: Islam-Ittihad v Azerbaijan


The Islam-Ittihad Association was a non-profit-making NGO active between 1991 and 2003. Under its Charter its main aims included the repair and maintenance of abandoned mosques and other places of worship, organising pilgrimages to Islamic shrines, providing material and moral aid to orphanages, sick and disabled people and the elderly and publishing religious books. It also campaigned against drugs and alcoholism and tried to promote tolerance between different religions.

In January 1998 the members of the Association decided to repair the JumaJuma Mosque mosque in Baku and to raise the issue of the mosque in the media. They further decided to tell the public about alleged unlawfulness of the existing monopoly in organising pilgrimages to Islamic shrines and to provide pilgrims with information about the organisation of their visits. The issue of Juma mosque had been before the ECtHR on a previous occasion, when the First Section ruled the entire complaint inadmissible on grounds of failure to exhaust domestic remedies: see Juma Mosque Congregation & Ors v Azerbaijan 15405/04 [2013] ECHR and our note on Muslims, mosques, registration and dubious goings-on in Azerbaijan. In Islam-Ittihad Association & Ors v Azerbaijan [2014] ECHR 1220, the applicants returned to the matter, but on a rather different tack. Continue reading