Azerbaijan shuts office, mosque linked to Iranian Supreme Leader

Azerbaijan shuts office, mosque linked to Iranian Supreme Leader

PanARMENIAN.Net - Azerbaijan has closed a mosque and an office linked to Iran's supreme leader in Baku just days after Tehran held military maneuvers close to the two countries' common border, RFE/RL reports.

"The [Husseiniyya] mosque and the office of Seyyed Ali Akbar Ojaghnejad, representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Baku, were sealed and closed today by order of the authorities of the Republic of Azerbaijan," Iran's Tasnim agency said on October 5.

Azerbaijan's Interior Ministry said in a statement that the cause for the closure, which also affected other indoor spaces, was a surge in coronavirus infections.

"Husseiniyya Mosque is one of the places where the coronavirus has been spreading in recent days. Appropriate measures are being taken by the epidemiological service," the ministry's press service said in a statement on October 5.

Ojaghnejad has been Khamenei's representative in Azerbaijan since 1996, according to the website of his office, which is located on the premises of the mosque.

Iran's embassy in Baku said in a statement on the evening of October 5 that it had followed up on the matter through diplomatic channels, adding that there had been no advance warning of the move.

Tensions have been high recently between the two neighbors, who share a 700-kilometer border. Iranian ground forces began maneuvers near the frontier on October 1, a move criticized by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.

Iranian officials have dismissed Azerbaijan's criticism, saying it is their sovereign right to conduct military exercises on their territory.

They also claimed that third-party forces -- a reference to Israel -- are playing a provocative role in the deterioration of Azerbaijani-Iranian relations.

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