Published: 00:00 GMT Daylight Time - Thursday 21 August 2003
Ethnic Azeris Targeted in Church Raid
On 13 July police raided a Baptist service being held in a private apartment in Gyanja, Azerbaijan. They interrupted the service during the sermon and declared the gathering to be illegal because it was not a registered church. They then proceeded to take Zaur Ismailov and Magomet Musayev to the police station and interrogate them for three hours; they were interrogated for similar three hour stretches over the next few days as well.
There were around a dozen members of the congregation, but only Ismailov and Musayev were targeted for interrogations and fines. Being ethnically Azeri, they would be viewed as apostates from Islam since nearly all Azeris are traditionally Muslim; as such they would come under particular pressure from the Azerbaijani authorities. The other members of the congregation were of non-Azeri, non-Muslim heritage, and thus not apostates in the eyes of the authorities.
In a similar move authorities in Turkmenistan have fined Nezire Kamalova, also a convert from Islam to Christianity. They have also threatened her with imprisonment.
Source Forum 18
APOSTASY IN ISLAM
All the major schools of Islamic law (shari’a) agree that apostates (i.e. converts from Islam) should be put to death, their marriages annulled, and their children and property taken away. This tradition is upheld and taught by most Muslim religious leaders around the world today. In countries like Iran, Sudan and Saudi Arabia the death sentence for leaving Islam is actually part of the law. Whilst in Azerbaijan there is technically no law against apostasy, converts are still actively harassed by the police in order to try to force them to return to Islam.
1. Pray that Zaur, Magomet and Nezire would be permitted to follow their faith without being harassed.
2. Pray that God will move in the hearts of western believers and that many would sign the petition.