Human Rights in Ukraine. Website of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group

Azerbaijani journalists sentenced to three and four years for criticizing Islam


A district court in Baku has found the publicist Rafik Tagi and the Chief Editor of the newspaper “Senet” Samir Sadatogla guilty of inciting religious enmity, the news agency ИА REGNUM reports. Rafik Tagi received a three year sentence, and Samir Sadatogla four years.

They were arrested for an article entitled “Europe and us”, published in “Senet” [“Art”] at the beginning of November 2006.  In it the author, Rafik Tagi criticized Muslim values and stated that the religion provokes enmity among people.

The publication elicited a great deal of protest from believers who accused the journalists of insulting the Prophet Muhammed. In the middle of November some Muslims held a rally in the centre of Baku at which they pronounced a “death sentence” on the author, vowing to cut off his head. On 15 November the publicist and editor were both arrested with the preventive measure chosen being two months remand. The trial began on 2 April.

The two journalists insist that they are innocent and point out that during the trial their constitutional rights were violated. According to Rafik Tagi, he “didn’t insult Islam, he spoke out against religious superstition.”

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