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Baku, Azerbaijan
Muslim Top Cleric Declared Christianity Cannot Be Official Religion In Azerbaijan
Christianity can never be an official religion in Azerbaijan, as over 98 per cent of this country's population is Muslim, a top cleric has said, according to Trend News agency (TNA).

"The leadership of the country has so far protected Islam as the main faith in Azerbaijan, and the Muslims themselves do not want Christianity to be recognized as a second state religion," Haci Allahsukur Pasazada, who heads the Board of Muslims of the Caucasus, told reporters in Baku on 28 August, Trend said.

"This is a desire of some people from abroad," is how he described a call for Christianity to be recognized as an official religion in Azerbaijan.

Pasazada's remarks came in response to a proposal made at a conference in Baku on 27 August. According to the opposition daily Yeni Musavat, an unidentified participant in the conference, which was reportedly organized by the Universal Peace Federation, said that Azerbaijan's embracing Christianity would contribute to peace in the region and would help resolve the Nagornyy Karabakh conflict with Christian Armenia.

In an interview with Yeni Musavat, rights activist Ilqar Ibrahimoglu, who is also the leader of a small Shi'i community in Baku, described the call as "a very serious provocation" against Azerbaijan.

Source: Trend News Agency (TNA), Baku/Azerbaijan