Freedom of religion in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan is a multicultural and multi-religious country and a secular country.[1] People of many religions coexist in Azerbaijan.[2] The article 48 of The Constitution of Azerbaijan ensures the right to liberty and people of all faiths may choose and practice their religion without restriction. Article 18 of the Constitution of Azerbaijan states that religion acts separately from the state affairs and the government. People of all beliefs are equal before the law and the propaganda of any religion, including Islam, while majority of the population is Muslim,[3] is still prohibited strictly as a case of contradicting humanism.

Religious demography

The country has an area of 33,436 square miles (86,600 km2)[4][5] and a population of 9.8 million[6] (2017). There were no reliable statistics on membership in specific religious groups; however, according to official figures approximately 96 percent of the population is Muslim. The remainder of the population consists mostly of Russian Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic (Almost all of which live in the break-away region of Nagorno-Karabakh), Jews, and nonbelievers. Among the Muslim majority, religious observance is relatively low, and Muslim identity tends to be based more on culture and ethnicity than religion. According to the State Committee on Work with Religious Associations (SCWRA), the Muslim population is approximately 85 percent Shi'a and 15 percent Sunni;[citation needed] traditionally, differences are not defined sharply. In a 2016 report, the U.S. Department of State puts the number as 65 percent Shia and 35 percent Sunni for the year 2011.[7]

The vast majority of Christians are Russian Orthodox. According to the U.S. Department of State, their "identity, like that of Muslims, tends to be based as much on culture and ethnicity as religion". Christians were concentrated in the urban areas of Baku, which is the nation's capital, and Sumgayit, its third-largest city.

Of a total Jewish population of approximately 15,000, the vast majority live in Baku. Much smaller communities exist in Guba in village and municipality named Red Town and elsewhere. There are five to six rabbis and six synagogues in the country.

Shi'a, Sunni, Russian Orthodox, and Jews are considered to be the country's "traditional" religious groups. Small congregations of Lutherans, Roman Catholics, Baptists, Molokans (Old Believers), Seventh-day Adventists, and Baha'is have been present for over 100 years.

In the last decade, a number of religious groups considered foreign or "nontraditional" have established a presence, including "Wahhabi" and Salafist Muslims, Pentecostal and evangelical Christians, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Hare Krishnas.

There were significant expatriate Christian and Muslim communities in Baku; authorities generally permitted these groups to worship freely.