The Haji Javad Mosque, located in the historical Sovetski area of Baku’s Yasamal District, was demolished overnight on 1 July, despite objections from locals, who were reportedly pushed away from the site by police. President Ilham Aliyev has dismissed the head of the district administration for making an ‘unauthorised decision’, Azerbaijani news outlet Trend reported.
According to Caucasian Knot, workers, escorted by the police, carried assets out of the mosque before bulldozers arrived demolishing the building, despite protest from roughly one hundred people.
Hundreds marched earlier in April against the shutdown of the mosque. However, parishioners were promised that if a decision was made to demolish the mosque, it would not be carried out until a new one was built nearby.
Trend quoted the assistant to the president for public and political issues, Ali Hasanov, as saying that the president ‘stopped the demolition of the Haji Javad Mosque back in April and instructed a special commission to be created for a comprehensive and objective investigation of the issue’.
After studying the issue, the commission decided that the ‘mosque’s demolition was inevitable’, Hasanov said, but promised that a ‘more beautiful and modern mosque’ would be built elsewhere in Yasamal District.
‘They say that a new mosque is really being built, and it is in Yasamal District too, but very far from here, roughly 4–5 km away’, Caucasian Knot quoted one local parishioner as saying, while another suggested that the mosque was demolished at night to ‘avoid mass protests’.
Haji Javad Mosque was included in the list of architectural monuments protected by Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, according to Berlin-based Azerbaijani media outlet Meydan TV.
The authorities have demolished a number of historical buildings in the city’s Sovetski old quarters for the purpose of ‘improvement and construction of new highways’, according to Caucasian Knot. In 2015–2016, thousands of old houses were reportedly demolished.
There are six other mosques in Sovetski: Shah Huseyn, Imam Huseyn, Taza Pir, Gasimbay, and Fatima mosques.
[See in pictures on Chai Khana: The last of Sovetski]