Council of Europe recommended Azerbaijan to study activities of registered religious communities: state committee official (INTERVIEW)

Azerbaijan, Baku, June 11 / Trend , K. Zarbaliyeva/  

Azerbaijani State Committee for Religious Associations Deputy Chairman Elchin Asgarov spoke an exclusive interview with Trend .

Trend : Under amendments and additions to the Law on Freedom of Conscience, religious communities must re-register. What is the reason for changes?

Elchin Asgarov: Additions and changes stipulate that all communities must re-register. Significant changes have been made to the registration process. Religious communities are registered in accordance with the Law on Public Associations. Only one addition has been made to this procedure. The communities should provide information about themselves, their activities, attitude towards family values, education, its history, beliefs and the experience that the trend has.

There were some problems in the religious sphere. There is a need for more extensive information on communities. Under the old rules, the ten men come together, create community and ask for registration. It took much time to study activities of the community. This change was made to simplify the process of examination and verification of information provided about the community. This applies not only to Muslim communities. This is a very complicated process in many countries. It was very simple in the previous law.

To prevent problems that can appear while creating religious community with new views, the Council of Europe recommended that member countries, including Azerbaijan, to seriously study the activities of registered religious communities. Previously, the process of registration of religious communities in Europe has been too easy, which created serious problems. Therefore, registration of hundreds of religious communities had been canceled in France in 2000. This particularly applies to new types of communities.

Q: Who is authorized to cancel registration of religious communities? What can serve as a reason?  

A: Registration of religious communities can be canceled only by court. Community's documents for registration can not be accepted or rejected. In case there is religious intolerance with community, the tendency to religious opposition, calls for extremism, a change of government and its regulations does not comply with the Constitution and laws of Azerbaijan, the religious community is not accepted for registration. And if those facts are found in the religious community, after it is registered, then the court is requested to cancel the registration.

Q: The additions and amendments calls for registration of religious communities with the mosque. However there are usually something wrong with documents of mosques in Azerbaijan.  How this problem can be addressed?

A: Some mosques do not have necessary ownership documents. If there is a mosque, it should have at least some documents. If the local executive authority or Caucasian Muslims Clerical Office is not against the deployment of a certain community in a mosque, it can continue its activities.

Q: Religious communities engaged in missionary activities are not interested in registration. How this issue is handled?

A: All communities operating openly engaged in missionary are interested in registering. Without registration it is impossible to rent premises and engage in missionary. What you said refers to extremist groups. They are not religious communities. They are radical groups and do not conduct missionary activities openly. Their activities are controlled by law enforcement agencies.

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