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Stabbed Azerbaijani Journalist Recounts Attack

Rafiq Tagi
Rafiq Tagi
BAKU -- Azerbaijani journalist Rafiq Tagi has recounted details of the assault two days ago in which he received multiple stab wounds, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

Tagi was stabbed on his way home on the night of November 19 in Baku and underwent surgery to have his spleen removed. Doctors say his condition is now satisfactory.

Tagi told doctors and police there were two assailants. He told RFE/RL the person who attacked him was approximately 30-35 years old, his face was concealed, and he did not say anything.

Tagi said the attacker ran away after stabbing him several times.

Tagi also said the attack might be linked to an article he published on November 10 on the website of RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service,

Titled "Iran and the Inevitability of Globalization," the article criticizes the Iranian regime as "intolerable" and dismisses as ridiculous Iranian threats against Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan's authorities have launched criminal proceedings in the assault.

Writer Shahbaz Xuduoglu earlier told RFE/RL that the attack was partially thwarted by a book that Tagi pressed against his chest.

"The knife touched the book but couldn't reach his heart," Xuduoglu said. "Certainly, it's an attempt to end his life. The attacker's purpose was to kill him. It was an organized attack."

In 2007, a district court in Baku sentenced Tagi to three years in jail for an article printed in 2006 that was deemed to be critical of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad.

The editor in chief of the "Sanat" newspaper in which the article appeared, Samir Sadagatoglu, was also sentenced to four years in prison. Both were released by presidential pardon later that year.

The article also prompted an Iranian cleric, Grand Ayatollah Fazel Lankarani, to place a fatwa on Tagi, calling for his death.

Baba Veziroglu, another of Tagi's colleagues, told RFE/RL that he saw no motive for the attack.

"If the incident took place some years ago, I would have some suppositions," Veziroglu said. "But he has not written anything controversial recently. I think it's a just hooliganism."

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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