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Azerbaijan Facts

Score: 57 / 100
Region: Central Asia
Persecution Type: Dictatorial Paranoia
Persecution Level: High
Population: 9,974,000
Christians: 319,000
Main Religion: N/A
Government: Presidential Republic
Leader: Ilham Aliyev

Profile of Persecution Methodology

Violence 14%
Church Life 74%
National Life 66%
Community Life 56%
Family Life 55%
Private Life 78%

Where Persecution Comes From

Christian persecution in Azerbaijan comes from both the government and Islamic society, to varying degrees. The authoritarian government limits religious activities to those under its control, and infiltrates all religious congregations with spies. This results in extreme distrust and limited communication within the church. Restrictive laws surrounding church registration make it incredibly difficult to receive government approval for legal religious activity. At the same time, Islamic society places significant pressure on Christians, particularly converts from Islam, to recant their faith. Families, friends and entire communities work together to get converts to return to Islam.

How Christians are Suffering

Due to the Azerbaijani government’s alleged infiltration of all religious congregations, fellowship and gathering for worship are high-risk activities for both congregants and leaders. Knowing who is trustworthy is nearly impossible, and as a result, minimal information surrounding the persecution of Christians is shared with foreigners. Pastors and church leaders are often called to meet with the police, and are constantly pressured to surrender information surrounding their congregants and church activities. For believers from Muslim backgrounds, persecution is even worse, sometimes resulting in imprisonment or physical violence at the hands of family members.

Examples

In November 2016, police raided an unregistered prayer meeting and kept all church members for hours of questioning. They recorded everyone’s passport data and compiled a list of all of the literature on hand, then proceeded to take every member to the district police station before releasing them.

In December 2016, two Baptists in the northern Zakatala District were fined for leading worship services without state permission. All of the religious literature in their possession was then sent to the capital Baku for alleged “expert analysis.”

Pray for Azerbaijan

  • Pray that God would give Christians in Azerbaijan discernment in knowing who they can trust, that they might enjoy genuine fellowship with one another.
  • Pray for church leaders that are under the pressure of constant surveillance and government infiltration of their congregations.
  • Pray for Christian believers from Muslim backgrounds who are experiencing persecution from their families and communities, that they would be witnesses to Christ in the midst of persecution.

Stories from Azerbaijan

January 10, 2018

215 Million Believers Face Persecution for Their Faith in Christ

The release of the 2018 World Watch List confirms what we've seen and shared over the past year. Our brothers…

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March 29, 2017

The World Watch Research Persecution Update

Recent news and its significance for the persecuted church.

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February 8, 2017

Guzal Stands Firm in the Face of Mounting Pressure

Guzal, a former Muslim, came to faith in Christ many years ago in her home country of Azerbaijan. Recently she…

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