Theologist Sentenced to Three Years in Prison

The trial of theologian Sardar Babayev came to an end today. Babayev was sentenced to three years in prison by Masalli District Court.

He was convicted of violating requirements for carrying out activities related to the dissemination of religious information (Article 168-1.3 of the Criminal Codex of Azerbaijan). According to prosecutors, Babayev did not have the right to carry out religious rites and activities in the country because he had received a religious education abroad, something explicitly forbidden by the law. 

Babayev graduated from university abroad in 2000, but the restrictive rule was introduced only in 2015 and the law is not meant to act retroactively. Moreover, his conviction seems to be contrary to the law, given that Babayev also graduated from the Azerbaijani Islamic University, which operates with a license under the Offices of the Caucasian Muslim Board.

Sardar Babayev was arrested in February 2017. According to his lawyer Javad Javadov, the head of the executive government of Masalli region (southern Azerbaijan) filed a complaint to open a criminal case against Babayev.