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Protest Held Against Demolition Of Baku Mosque

BAKU -- Police dispersed a group of demonstrators on September 1 protesting an Azerbaijani court ruling that allows for the demolition of the Fatimeyi Zehra Mosque in the capital.

The protesters addressed their appeal to President Ilham Aliev, demanding an end to the demolition of mosques.

One of the protesters suggested to an RFE/RL Azerbaijani Service correspondent that other mosques might be torn down in the absence of protests.

Some of the protesters threatened to commit suicide if the Fatimeyi Zehra Mosque was razed.

A Baku economic court recently upheld a decision by Suraxani authorities against the mosque and ruled that it be demolished.

The mosque was built with the consent of Rafael Allahverdiyev, the former head of the Baku Executive Authorities. His successor, Hacibala Abutalibov, canceled the relevant decree but the mosque was saved from demolition on the orders of former President Heydar Aliyev.

Fatimeyi-Zehra would be the third mosque to be torn down this year.

The only offshore mosque and another in Yasamal district were razed April and May.

A Turkish mosque in central Baku was closed for restoration in May, and the Abu Bekr Mosque was closed for security reasons last year.

Some religious NGOs have alleged political motives behind the mosques' destruction in the face of a perceived growth of Islam in Azerbaijan.