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Turkish Mosque In Baku Closed For 'Repairs'

The Cuma Mosque in Baku
The Cuma Mosque in Baku
BAKU -- Baku officials ordered the closure of a Sunni mosque -- known in Azerbaijan as a Turkish mosque -- for "repairs" on April 25, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

Gunduz Ismaylov, head of the State Committee on Religious Affairs, told RFE/RL that the Cuma Mosque will be reopened after reconstruction.

The mosque was built in 1996 and already underwent repairs two years ago.

The mosque is a popular destination for Azerbaijan's large Turkish community.

The timing of the closure -- amid growing disagreement between Baku and Ankara on Turkey's rapprochement with Armenia -- has led some worshippers to question the reason for closing it.

Baku-based religious activist Ilgar Ibrahimoglu said "it is disgraceful to use the mosque closure as a form of protest." Ibrahimoglu is the imam of the Baku-based Juma religious community.

The Turkish Embassy in Baku refused to comment on the issue.

Azerbaijani officials closed a popular Shi'a mosque in Baku headed by Ibrahimoglu in 2003 for repairs but have not yet reopened it.

In August 2008, the Sunni Abu-Bakr Mosque was closed after an explosion during a service that killed two people.

The attack was blamed on radical Islamic groups and the mosque is still closed.