On 19 October, the State Security Service (DTX) detained members of the Assembly of Clergy of Azerbaijan and searched their homes.
Those arrested were Sardar Babayev, Jalal Shafiyev, Gadir Mammadov and Tamkin Jafarov. Akif Heydarli, Deputy Chairman of the Islamic Party, stated that none of those detained had committed any crimes. “The arrests are a continuation of the crackdown on clerics in the country”, said Heydarli.
During the search, it is reported that the DTX confiscated their computers and telephones.
Ilgar Ibrahimoglu, chairman of the Center for the Defense of Freedom of Religion and Conscience, was also detained on 19 October, but he was released early in the morning.
Member of the Parliamentary Committee on Public Associations and Religious Organizations MP Jeyhun Mammadov called the interrogation of suspects in connection with Iran a preventive measure.
Speaking with pravda.az, Mammadov defended the detentions, “such measures are implemented in all countries for preventive purposes”.
Political commentator Rauf Mirgadirov believes that while there are many pro-Iranian people in Azerbaijan, it is not grounds for preventative detention, and called Mammadov’s statement “inappropriate”. “Iran, of course, can use these people to aggravate both its own interests and the internal situation in Azerbaijan”, he says. “But there has to be enough evidence to arrest people.”
Islamic clergy, activists and politicians are often targeted by the Azerbaijani government due to their connection, perceived or real, to Iranian influence. The relations between the two countries have
slightly since the Fall 2020 War in large part to the strong ties between Azerbaijan and Israel.