More than 100 years before militant Islamist gunmen murdered journalists at France’s satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, another magazine very similar in style was playing an important role among the Muslim populations of both the Russian and Persian empires.
Azerbaijani weekly magazine Molla Nasreddin was revolutionary for its time, bravely ridiculing clerics and criticising the political elite as well as the Russian Tsar and the Shah of Persia.
Founded in 1906, it pulled no punches in tackling geopolitical events and also promoted women’s rights and Westernisation.
The editor-in-chief of the magazine was Jalil Mammadguluzadeh (known as Mirza Jalil), a famous Azerbaijani writer, who was also a well-known novelist.
In his book, The Dead, the main protagonist is a drunken atheist, treated as a madman for telling the truth about his backward society, where girls as young as nine are forced…
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