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Baku State University expels student for dance with Azerbaijani flag

30 November 2020

A student has been expelled from the Baku State University for dancing with an Azerbaijani flag over his face during an online lecture.

A video of Parviz Mahammadov, a first-year student at the Faculty of Mechanics and Mathematics, dancing with an Azerbaijani flag over his head and sunglasses on top was widely shared on social media after it was published on 23 November.

Classes in Azerbaijani universities are being held online due to COVID-19 quarantine regulations. 

The dance was part of a social media trend under the hashtag #ghostphotoshoot, in which participants take photos with bedsheets over their heads, often with sunglasses. Several people have taken part in the challenge in online classes in Azerbaijan.

According to the Baku State University, Parviz repeatedly violated the university’s internal disciplinary rules during classes. In a statement on 26 November, they said the student and his parents were informed about these issues.

‘Parviz Mahammadov once again violated the internal rules of the university during the teaching process, insulting the State Flag of the Republic of Azerbaijan, stained with the blood of our martyrs, proudly waved by our Glorious Army under the leadership of our Supreme Commander-in-Chief.’ 

‘According to Article 11 of the Law on the Rules of Use of the State Flag of the Republic of Azerbaijan, “the use of the State Flag of the Republic of Azerbaijan contrary to the requirements of this Law, as well as committing insulting actions related to the State Flag of the Republic of Azerbaijan shall be punishable”.’

On 28 November, the university released a short video in which Mahammadov apologises for his actions. 

‘I have disrespected the flag, I apologise in front of everyone and my people. I bring my apologies to the teacher for interrupting her class. I apologise for disrespecting our tutor several weeks ago’, he says in the video. 

‘People who are writing on social media, I don’t know if they are supporting me or not, I think they are doing it for ratings and they are complicating this issue, this may end with a case being opened against me, that is why I am asking people to stop commenting, do not worry about me, and delete the videos you are sharing.’

Many users on social media responded angrily to Mahammadov’s expulsion, with some accusing the university of being a corrupt institution. 

The Baku State University released another statement on Monday referring to Mahammadov’s appeal to the university rector, Elchin Babayev, to reconsider the decision to expel him. 

They said a commission had been established and a new decision would be considered by the university’s Scientific Council on Monday.

Parviz Mahammadov was not reachable for comment. The Baku State University did not respond to a request for comment.

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