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Azerbaijan Official Says Mosque Demolitions Legitimate

BAKU -- An Azerbaijani presidential administration official has said that the recent demolition of three mosques was carried out because the buildings were meant for commercial purposes, and that their use for religious activity violated the law, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

Ali Hasanov, head of the administration's sociopolitical department, rejected suggestions that the demolition of the mosques could be considered a violation of religious rights.

The State Committee on Work with Religious Bodies says that there are some 1,750 mosques in Azerbaijan, of which only about 500 are officially registered.