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Iran Denies Involvement In Attack On Azerbaijani Writer

Writer Rafig Tagi was stabbed several times in Baku on the night of November 19.
Writer Rafig Tagi was stabbed several times in Baku on the night of November 19.
BAKU -- The Iranian Embassy in Azerbaijan has released a statement denying any Iranian participation in the stabbing of writer and journalist Rafiq Tagi, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

"We refute the groundless claims, at odds with reality, spread by some persons and media outlets of the Azerbaijan Republic linking the attempt on Rafiq Tagi's life to the Islamic Republic of Iran," the statement read.

"We construe such actions aimed at creating a negative atmosphere as Zionist-American sabotage [in a bid] to undermine Iranian-Azerbaijani strategic relations. We regard these attempts as a failure and a defeat."

Local media have speculated that the attack on Tagi on November 19 may have been connected to his published articles criticizing Iran and radical Islamists.

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 that there were two assailants. He told RFE/RL that the person who knifed him was approximately 30-35 years old.

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

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