Excerpt from report by Azerbaijani TV station ANS on 20 April
[Presenter] Members of a sect have been detained in Ganca [northwestern Azerbaijan]. They were engaged in illegal activities in violation of the law on freedom of religion.
[Correspondent over video of people with children in a room, books entitled “The Holy Book”] The number of Christian-oriented non- traditional sects is on the rise in Ganca. Some of them are illegal. For instance, it has been found out that members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses sect, which was banned in 2002, are now secretly gathering at a different venue. As a result of an operation carried out by the police of the Kapaz district [of Ganca], it has been discovered that members of the sect gathered in the house of a Ganca resident [name withheld]. There were 43 members of the sect, including 16 small children.
According to the Jehovah’s Witnesses sect, which is known for its radicalism, humankind can be divided into two categories: one is called Jehovah and consists of the followers of God, and the other consists of devils. Experts reckon that the views of the sect are detrimental to the state and society because the members of the sect are told that the notions such as motherland, nation and state are unimportant and that only the rules of Jehovah are correct. The members who fall under the sway of the sect have an unequivocal position regarding the state attributes, such as the flag or national anthem.
The most damaging feature of the Jehovah’s Witnesses propaganda is that members of the sect are banned from handling weapons. However, the majority of the sect members are teenagers and citizens of a state which is at war. In other words, members of the sect are taught to pity the Armenians.
[Saladdin Mammadov, captioned as the leader of the Ganca community of Jehovah’s Witnesses] They have children and parents, like me. They do not rejoice at such events.
[Correspondent] The local representative of the Azerbaijani State Committee for Work with Religious Structures, Firdovsi Karimov, has emphasized that among the other non-traditional Christian sects, the activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses is especially damaging to the state and the nation.
[Firdovsi Karimov, captioned] We do not need that. Our children have to be brought up as patriots. They should know their friends and foes. Can one look at an enemy as at a friend?
[Correspondent] The members of the sect were detained under Article 299 of the Administrative Code and taken to the Kapaz district police department for the verification of their identities. At the same time, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have violated Part 5 of Article 1 of the law on religious freedom, Karimov said.
[Karimov] They produced no document regarding their registration. There were many small children, people under 16. There had to be a document for each child that both parents agree [to their being members of the sect]. None of them had the document.
[Correspondent] The police confiscated from the sect members around 200 books which did not pass state registration. The members of the sect were warned and released. The police department said that should the incident repeat, a lawsuit will be brought against the sect members.
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