Azerbaijan launches crackdown on Muslims in Nardaran
The Azerbaijani government has launched a harsh crackdown on Shia Muslims in the country’s eastern Nardaran town.
On Tuesday, hundreds of Azerbaijani forces carried out a raid on the town, harassing the population and tearing down Shia religious symbols.
Azerbaijan’s Interior Ministry announced that the raid was under the direct supervision of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
The attack took place as Shias had gathered for a religious ceremony to mark Arbaeen, the 40th day since the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (PBUH), the third Shia Imam, and his followers in the Battle of Karbala.
The town has been under siege and without power, water and gas since last Thursday when government troops killed four people in a raid on a Shia religious ceremony and arrested Shia cleric Tale’ Baqirzadeh (Bagirov), the leader of the Movement for Muslim Unity (MMU).
Following the last week raid, the town’s Shia residents staged a number of demonstrations, calling on authorities to return the victims’ bodies and reconnect utilities. On Monday, the town’s elders announced that demonstrations had come to an end.