Rasim Aliyev’s, and independent journalist from Azerbaijan has died after being brutally beaten because of a critical Facebook comment he posted about a prominent soccer player.
Aliyev said that Javid Huseynov should be banned from soccer for allegedly making a rude gesture at a Cypriot journalist after he asked why the athlete waved a Turkish flag at a Cypriot team’s fans.
Aliyev referred to Huseynov as “immoral and ill-bred” in his post. “I do not want someone this lewd, crude, and unable to control himself to represent me on European soccer fields,” Aliyev wrote.
He was later lured to a meeting by someone who claimed to be a relative of Huseynov and was beaten severely by about half a dozen men, he said to Meydan.tv before his passing.
Aliyev died of internal bleeding as a result of the assault. Azerbaijan's President, Ilham Aliyev, said he was "seriously concerned" by the incident, calling it a "threat to freedom of speech", according to APA news agency.
The incident is still under investigation but several men have been detained including Huseynov’s cousin, Elshan Ismayiolov. Huseynov has also been suspended from his team, according to a statement issued by the Gabala club.
"Despite the fact that Huseynov is a very important player for the Gabala team, he has been suspended from the first team until this issue is clarified," the statement said.
The imprisonment and violence against journalists and bloggers who voice opposing opinions is a common occurrence in Azerbaijan that activists are currently fighting against.
The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety – an organization Aliyev chaired – said that he had received death threats prior to the attack but was denied police protection.
“This murder is a constituent part of the Azerbaijan’s government policy of deliberately destroying the country’s civil society and voices of dissent,” the group said in a statement.