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Azerbaijani Islamic Party Head Jailed For Three Months

The chairman of the Islamic Party of Azerbaijan, Movsum Samadov
BAKU -- The chairman of the unregistered Islamic Party of Azerbaijan (AIP) has been sentenced to three months in pretrial detention on charges of illegal arms possession, inciting terror, and seeking to change the constitutional system, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

Movsum Samadov was initially detained along with several members of his party on January 7 and was held for 13 days for allegedly resisting police.

Samadov's lawyer, Anar Qasimov, told RFE/RL on January 20 after the sentencing that Samadov was interrogated for three hours later that day, which Qasimov witnessed. Samadov was then taken to the Nasimi District court, which ruled that Samadov be held in jail for three months.

Qasimov said he will appeal the decision.

Human rights defenders say Samadov's detention is linked to a January 2 speech at an AIP meeting in which he criticized a government ban on girls wearing head scarves in middle schools.

In the speech, which is available online, Samadov referred to a "Washington Post" article from last year alleging that Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has millions of dollars worth of property in Dubai.

"We are against those who are against our religion. We have to destroy such a cruel regime and its head," Samadov said during the speech. Attendees at the meeting chanted slogans such as "Allahu Akbar!" (God is great).

The AIP was established in 1991 and officially registered one year later. But the party's registration was annulled in 1995 and it has not been reregistered.

Party officials say they have thousands of members but do not give further details.