Azerbaijani mosques to campaign for Ilham Aliyev

Sheikh ul-Islam Allahshukur Pashazadeh and President Ilham Aliyev in Medina, Saudi Arabia

On 14 February, the chairman of the Muslim Council of the Caucasus, Sheikh ul-Islam Allahshukur Pashazadeh, instructed Azerbaijan’s Muslim clergy to use their Friday khutbahs, or sermons, to agitate for President Ilham Aliyev’s reelection.

"Naturally, we can’t force anyone to vote for someone,” Pashazadeh said. “It’s our duty to deliver the truth to the people, and that’s what I want the imams and akhunds to do with their Friday khutbahs. I also want to say that we will supervising," Pashazadeh said.

Haji Shahin Hasanli, another official at the Muslim Council of the Caucasus, called on the population of Azerbaijan "to make the right choice in the presidential elections".

"We hope that the people will actively participate in the elections, especially against the background of conflicts and disagreements in the world as a whole and in this region in particular," Hasanli said.

Now more than ever, the people must make the right choice and vote for the head of state, Ilham Aliyev, in order to protect stability and sustainable development in the country.

Last year it was announced that Muslim clergy in Azerbaijan would become eligible for a state salary in 2018.

On 5 February, Ilham Aliyev signed an order moving this year’s presidential elections to 11 April. The elections had originally been scheduled to take place on 17 October.

The president was granted the power to call early elections by a controversial constitutional referendum in 2016. The amendments also extended the presidential term from five years to seven.

President Aliyev has been nominated for reelection by the ruling New Azerbaijan Party.