Published: 00:01 GMT Standard Time - Thursday 16 December 2010
Advent Prayer - Azerbaijan
Country/Region: Azerbaijan, Central Asia
“You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.”Luke 1:31
Map showing the location of Azerbaijan
On 30 July 2010 Cathedral of Praise Church in Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan, lost its fight to win back legal recognition after being refused registration under a 2009 religion law that required all previously registered religious organisations to gain fresh accreditation. A number of churches were refused re-registration, four of which contested the refusal. The verdict for Cathedral of Praise Church sets a worrying legal precedent for further appeals. Its leader, Pastor Halilov, stated that he would consider pursuing the matter to the European Court of Human Rights.
Cathedral of Praise church was prohibited from meeting in another congregation’s building after the tent it used for worship services was destroyed in a fire on 9 January. Their re-registration has been refused, making it difficult for them to obtain a new building
In Azerbaijan the constitution provides for freedom of religion, but the country is 96% Muslim. Christians make up 2% of the total population and often face pressure from government and local authorities. The government gives preferential treatment to those religions considered “traditional” (Islam, Russian Orthodox Christianity and Judaism), while other forms of Christianity are actively restricted. Churches experience threats and harassment, literature is censored, and services may be raided. Churches must register in order to rent or own a meeting place. Without registration they are likely to face raids, threats and harassment.
Despite this harsh treatment Christianity is growing in Azerbaijan, and the number of ethnic Azeri Christians has been increasing in recent years. However, many face hostility from family, community and authorities, especially if they have converted from Islam.
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This article is taken from
“Praying for the Persecuted Church in Advent 2010” - order your FREE copy here.