Between Turkish Sunnis and Iranian Shia Influences: Islamic Revival in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan has historically experienced three main influences, Russian secularism, Ottoman Sunnism and Iranian Shiism. In the two decades since the end of the Soviet Union, Azerbaijan is once again a space of competition between different religious influences. An Islamic revival underway in Azerbaijan has awakened the old cleavage between Shia and Sunni Islam.
Bayram Balci contended that the Islamic influences from Iran (Shia) and from Turkey (Sunni) are recreating new dividing lines between Azerbaijani Shia and Sunni Muslims. In his talk he analyzed the various aspects of Shia and Sunni revival, including the roles played by Turkey and Iran, and how Azerbaijan is reacting to these “new” religious cleavages.