State secularism and banning foreign religious education: Sardar Babayev


In Sardar Babayev v Azerbaijan [2024] ECHR 88, the applicant, an Azerbaijani national and an imam, had obtained his religious education in Iran between 1991 and 2000. In 2000 he returned to Azerbaijan and had been preaching and conducting Friday prayers in the Masalli city mosque since 2009 [5].

In December 2015, a new Article 168-1 was added to the Criminal Code which criminalised the conduct of Islamic religious rites and rituals by citizens of the Republic of Azerbaijan who had obtained their religious education abroad [6], but he continued to preach and conduct Friday prayers at the mosque despite official warnings. Finally in 2017, he was prosecuted and convicted and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment; his subsequent appeals were unsuccessful [15-26].

The arguments Continue reading