Azerbaijan’s Muslim clergy will soon receive salaries from a new state-funded organization, according to the chairman of the State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations, Mubariz Gurbanli. The Foundation for the Promotion of Cultural Values should begin functioning in January, and clerics may begin receiving their salaries as early as February.
According to Gurbanli, a discussion is currently underway as to how much those salaries should be and who should receive them: "The main thing is that imams, deputy imams and other people in similar positions appointed by the Board of Muslims of the Caucasus will receive salaries upon recommendation by the board."
Speaking to Meydan TV, Azerbaijani MP Fazil Mustafa, leader of the Great Structure Party, commented on the demands the foundation will place on clerics. “In return for this support, they are tasked with fighting the spread of ignorance and with educating people. Therefore, there is no other intention behind this, and they will not be provided with funds like officials. The positive side of this is that clerics will not be receiving any donations or salaries from other states."
Mustafa does not think that by doing this, the state will put religion under its influence. According to the MP, the move is a response to security concerns. "If ignored, religious radicalism and the influence of other states may strengthen,” Mustafa said.