Baku’s “Haji Javad” mosque was demolished on the evening of June 30.
The demolition was scheduled due to impending road construction work that will run through the territory of the mosque.
Mosque attendees said that they had gathered for noon prayers and that there had been no warning when they found out the mosque had already been demolished.
Tensions surrounding the Haji Javad mosque began back in April of this year.
On April 9, the State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations informed the mosque leadership that the mosque was scheduled for demolition.
Two days later, mosque-goers and its leadership appealed to President Ilham Aliyev to resolve the issue and preserve the historical monument that is protected by a list of historical monuments of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
In turn, Chairman of the Caucasus Muslim Board Sheikh-ul-Islam Allahshukur Pashazade said that he was "as a religious figure, against the demolition of any mosque." However he later conceded that public works and infrastructure were also important.
A clash between mosque-goers and police ensued on April 12. One day later, President Aliyev ordered that the demolition of the mosque be suspended in order to comprehensively study the issue.
An agreement was then reached with the State Committee for Work with Religious Communities on the construction of a new mosque.
On July 1, presidential aide Ali Hasanov said that in accordance with the President's instruction, a space for the construction of a more spacious, beautiful and modern mosque had been allocated on Sharifzade street in Baku’s Yasamal district.
The demolition of the Haji Javad mosque was supposed to take place after the completion of the construction of the mosque.
However, contrary to the instructions of the President, the mosque was demolished early. Upon learning of this, President Ilham Aliyev immediately gave instructions to punish those responsible for the mosque’s untimely demolition.
Hasanov said that the chief culprit in the case, the head of the district executive authority, Ibrahim Mehdiyev, has already been dismissed from his post.
The Haji Javad mosque was built in 1912.