The State Committee held a conference in Baku on 23 September entitled "Religious Expert Analysis: Law and Practice", it announced on its website the same day. Also taking part were publishers, as well as representatives of the Spiritual Values Promotion Foundation (which is subject to the State Committee) and the state-controlled Caucasian Muslim Board, the only Muslim organisation the government allows to exist. State Committee Deputy Chair Gunduz Ismayilov told the conference that "harmful literature" was rarely encountered because of the law mandating censorship and the "close cooperation" between the State Committee and publishers and authors. Nahid Mammadov, the head of the State Committee's "Religious Expert Analysis" (Censorship) Department, claimed the state censorship was in line with international practice. He claimed that censorship also protected against piracy and tax evasion. He maintained that the control stickers enhance trust in religious literature. "Every citizen reads religious literature with the appropriate sticker and refuses any other literature offered to them," the State Committee website cited him as saying. "It also means that our citizen, without knowing the contents of the book, will be able to determine whether the text of the book is malicious thanks to the control sticker." Mammadov also told the conference that 42 shops across the country have the required state licence to sell religious books and items, though more than 100 exist. He complained that the unlicensed shops "create certain problems", though he does not appear to have specified what these are. Mammadov said that the State Committee had banned the import of 63 out of 1,603 publications in 2017; 52 out of 1,704 in 2018; and 158 out of 2,412 in January to September 2019. The State Committee had banned the publication in Azerbaijan of 4 out of 214 publications in 2017; 26 out of 197 in 2018; and 17 out of 192 in January to September 2019. (END) Full reports on freedom of thought, conscience and belief in Azerbaijan (http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?query=&religion=all&country=23) For more background, see Forum 18's Azerbaijan religious freedom survey (http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2429) Forum 18's compilation of Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) freedom of religion or belief commitments (http://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=1351) A printer-friendly map of Azerbaijan (http://www.nationalgeographic.org/education/classroom-resources/mapping/outline-map/?map=Azerbaijan) Follow us on Twitter @Forum_18 (http://twitter.com/forum_18) Follow us on Facebook @Forum18NewsService (http://www.facebook.com/Forum18NewsService) All Forum 18 text may be referred to, quoted from, or republished in full, if Forum 18 is credited as the source. All photographs that are not Forum 18's copyright are attributed to the copyright owner. If you reuse any photographs from Forum 18's website, you must seek permission for any reuse from the copyright owner or abide by the copyright terms the copyright owner has chosen.
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