Shiite Identity in Azerbaijan Republic , Challenges and the Prospe ahead
By: Hossein Ahmadi
The Azerbaijan Republic with 86600 square Kilometers of territory, is the only republic separated from the Soviet Union with a Shiite majority. The Republic announced its independence in 1991. The variety of the tribes has made the republic very vulnerable. And if the Shiite identity of the country is stressed upon, this weakness might be overcome to some great extent. Though the official statistics of 1989 showed the population of the country as 7 million and the Shiite population as 70% of the whole population, during Qarabagh wars 1991-1994, and the exit of 1 million Christians from the country including 400 thousand Armenians, 400 thousand Russians and 150000 Ukrainians, the Moslems amounted to 99% of the population, 85% of which being Shiites.
In this republic the strategy of resistance is followed through weakening and elimination of the Shiite element: non recognition of Shiism in the constitution, prohibition of the Shiite activities and even mourning ceremonies of Tasua and Ashura, freedom of other religions and sects including Wahabis, the Christian missionaries such as Adventists, Indian Krishna, the Bahais, the Jews and Nordics, and ratifications of anti religious regulations such as prohibition of Islamic veil in schools.
Weakening of Shiite identity in the Azerbaijan Republic not only prevents its absorption within the Shiite and Iranian culture, but also creates a distance and through arising tribal questions, provides the path for internal collapse in Azeri territory of Iran. Based on a field research, the article intends to explain the dark aspects of the policy of weakening of Shiite identity in the Azerbaijan Republic.
Keywords: Iran, Azerbaijan Republic, Shiite Identity.