Friday, December 01, 2006

Blasphemy in Azerbaijan

IWPR reports on a controversy in Iran surrounding a journalist accused of insulting Muhammad. He has been sentenced to two months in prison, but Shi'ite fundamentalists in the country are demanding life imprisonment, and an Iranian ayatollah is offering his house for the man's head. With its focus on Nardaran, the article might give a somewhat misleading impression, as that city is really an island of fundamentalism in a sea of Soviet-influenced secularism and lots of traditional Muslim practices. What I found interesting, however, is the assigning of blame:
"Hajiaga Nuriev, one of the village’s elders and chairman of Azerbaijan’s Islamic Party, suggested Taghi was part of a wider conspiracy. 'Both domestic and foreign forces have an interest in this,' he said. 'We think that people such as Rafik Taghi are acting on behalf of international Zionism and Armenia, and they have deliberately damaged Azerbaijan’s credibility with its brothers-in-faith.'"

The trope is localized, but Israel is still the problem =) The funny thing is, Armenia is by far Iran's closest ally in the Caucasus.

UPDATE: Eteraz has more, as well as the e-mail address of another Iranian ayatollah who has issued a fatwa calling for the journalist's death.


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