Azerbaijan offers compromise over Muslim headscarf ban in election run-up

[JURIST] Azerbaijan officials have agreed to allow Soviet-era passports to be used as identification for upcoming elections in an attempt to avoid controversy over a headscarf ban for new ID photo cards. The government announced the change in policy after a group representing thousands of Muslim women said that many would not be able to vote in the elections because they have not obtained new ID cards due to the ban on headscarves for the photos. The country's Central Election Commission [official website, English version] said Tuesday that older forms of identification would be accepted for the election, delaying a possible showdown over the ban. The Washington-based International Religious Liberty Association [advocacy website], led by Imam Ilgar Ibrahimoglu in Baku, has challenged the government policy. Ibrahimoglu said the dispute was less about religious repression than government repression of any form of dissent. He has accused the government of harassing him and members of his congregation because of his opposition to the government. Azerbaijan is largely secular country, with Muslims representing only about 5 percent of the population. AP has more.

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