Date: July 26, 2012
(Source: Forum 18 News Service)
Azerbaijan's parliament has passed an amendment that says religious materials must have a state-issued verification mark before they can be sold. Those selling religious materials -- literature in electronic or hard copy form as well as audio and video products -- without the verification mark may face fines and confiscation of the materials.
The amendments to the Code of Administrative Offences create a new Article which punishes those who sell products without verification. What is perhaps even more troubling to Christians in the country is that the amendments also allow authorities to confiscate the entire stock of unmarked products. A spokesperson for the Tax Ministry insisted that the provisions were created to ensure that tax is paid on commercial production of literature.
Religious literature already undergoes compulsory censorship from the State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations. All religious literature must be approved by the State Committee, which dictates the number of copies that may be printed or imported, checks the contents of shops selling religious literature, and maintains a list of banned religious literature which the Expertise Department -- which is responsible for the list -- will not make public. Compulsory licenses for shops selling religious literature were introduced in May 2009.
Please pray that the gospel message will continue to spread throughout Azerbaijan despite attempts to restrict religious materials. Pray that those in authority will come to Christ and will respect religious freedom for all. Pray that Christians in Azerbaijan will rejoice in the opportunity to grow in Christlikeness through the ongoing opposition they face (James 1:2-4).
For more on the persecuted Church in Azerbaijan, please visit www.persecution.net/azerbaijan.htm.