| Religious Freedom Ranking:
2 out of 5 stars: Poor
The Constitution provides for religious freedom with some restrictions. In 2009 constitutional amendments increased limitations on religious conduct and included new registration requirements for religious organizations. It also restricted proselytizing by foreigners and legislation mandated Islamic leaders to be residents educated in the country. In January 2010 there were re-registration problems for many religious organizations.
There have been reports of abuse and discrimination against Muslims who converted to different faiths, unsanctioned Islamic associations, Jehovah’s Witnesses, evangelical Christians and other missionary groups. Destruction or closure of mosques, attacks on religious communities and the removing of religious literature are examples of religious persecution.
The country has a population of nine million. Approximately 96 percent of the population is Muslim. The rest of the population includes Russian Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, and members of other Christian groups, Jews and nonbelievers.
The 2009 Law on Religious Freedom forbid “spreading of and propagandizing religion (religious movements), humiliating people’s dignity and contradicting the principles of humanism.” Additionally, it states, “no one shall be forced to express (to demonstrate) his or her religious faith and belief.”
The law on freedom specifically forbids the government from meddling in religious actions; however, the exceptions are made in cases where the religious group “threatens public order and stability.”
There is no religious instruction in public or private elementary and high schools. Students can pursue religious classes at higher educational institutions.
There have been no reports of forced religious conversion.
The country hosted an international religious conference with representatives of the Armenian Catholicos in April 2010. Its purpose was to relieve the current tensions of the long-standing conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
2010 U.S. State Department International Religious Freedom on Azerbaijan