Fuad Rasulzadeh, a controversial comedy blogger was violently beaten over a joke about Khudayar Yusifzadeh, a famous soldier who had died during the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War.
Rasulzadeh reportedly told the joke to his friend who then published it in a tweet. The tweet, published on 21 March reads: ‘it’s been a while since Khudayar released a new song’. Later Rasulzadeh came forward taking responsibility for the joke.
On 28 April several men assaulted Rasulzadeh on the street and disseminated the video of the attack on social media.
Reactions to the beating in Azerbaijan have been mixed. Many social network users justified the attack, while others condemned the attack as an incident of illegal street violence.
According to the press service of the Interior Ministry, Ehsan Zahidov, a criminal case has been launched in connection with the assault. ‘As a result of the operation, the perpetrators were identified as the brother, uncle and cousin of the martyr Khudayar Yusifzade’, the Interior Ministry statement reads.
Rasulzadeh himself told local media that in his opinion, the people who attacked him have no connection to Yusifzadeh’s family, and the transfer of blame was done to shelter the real culprits from the police.
Some outlets have released a supposed interview with Yusifzadeh’s mother in which she acknowledges her role as the instigator behind the attack. ‘I know that the boy who spoke about Khudayar was beaten, I made them do it’, she is reported as saying.
Khudayar Yusifzadeh was wounded in the village of Agbend, Zangilan and later died of his injuries. Two days earlier he took a video of himself with his comrades singing the song ‘Vətən yaxşıdır’ (the motherland is good) written by Soviet-Azerbaijani poet Aliagha Vahid. The video went viral in Azerbaijan, with many musicians releasing remixed duets of the song, turning Yusifzadeh into a symbol of Azerbaijan’s fallen soldiers.
Some social media users have speculated that Fuad Rasulzade’s beating was ordered by Azerbaijani authorities in response to jokes he made about Ilham Aliyev’s recent trip to Zangilan and specifically his mockery of a photo which shows Aliyev and his family hugging an old plane tree.
‘They just used the status of martyr Khudayar as an excuse. The one who did something for the sake of the late martyr would have done it a long time ago. But they made their order now, by opening the old conversation’, one Facebook user wrote.