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Protesters against ban on hijabs convicted in Baku

Today, the Nariman District Court of Baku has announced the verdict to a group of believers, who were arrested in connection with the protest action on October 5, 2012, in front of the Ministry of Education of Azerbaijan. The court sentenced the believers to prison terms ranging from one and a half to two years.


The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that on October 5, 2012, in the capital of Azerbaijan, about 200 believers held a protest against the ban on wearing hijabs in schools. The protesters exposed resistance to law enforcers. Criminal charges were presented to 32 participants of the action; other 14 detainees were punished administratively. 28 other detainees were released after warning.


On April 22, eight believers were already convicted on these events to imprisonment from five to six years. Most of them refused to plead guilty.


Initially, the protesters were charged under Articles 315.2 (resistance or use of force against a state authority) and 233 (organization of actions aimed at disturbing public order, or participation in these actions) of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan.


Later, however, investigators dropped the charges under Article 315.2 for the absence of sufficient evidence, Rustam Zulfugarov, an advocate of one of the suspects Bakhtiyar Agaev, told the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent.


Today, the court has found the believers guilty under Article 233 and sentenced Tyurkel Rasulov, Elnur Gasanov, Elsevyar Isaev, Yusif Mirzoev and Rauf Salekhov to 18 months in prison.


The terms of one year and nine months in prison were awarded to Seimur Bagirli, Yousif Mirzoev, Muhammad Gambarov, Nofel Mamedov and Bakhtiyar Agaev. Khudaverdi Abdullaev was sentenced to two years in prison. The maximum penalty under Article 233 of the Criminal Code is three years' imprisonment.


Five of the believers who have been sentenced to 1.5 years in prison, had partially admitted their guilt and received a more lenient punishment. "The remaining defendants, including my client Bakhtiyar Agaev, have completely rejected the charges," said the lawyer.


However, according to Zulfugarov, his client did not intend to file an appeal under the motive of his distrust of the court.


The court decision to deprive the believers of the liberty was condemned by Natig Kerimov, the head of the Public Committee for the Protection of Islamists' Rights and a member of the Supreme Majlis of the Islamic Party of Azerbaijan.


"These people were protesting against violation of believers' rights. The ban on wearing hijabs in schools is contrary to human rights, the Azerbaijani Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). In a Muslim country, in general, such a ban is absurd and contrary to national traditions and customs. Therefore, we treat these people as 'hijab prisoners' and call to release them," said Kerimov.


According to his story, at present, more than 100 believers of Azerbaijan are imprisoned for taking part in demonstrations and protests against violation of citizens' religious rights in other forms.


Caucasian Knot


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