Azerbaijan backs all religious communities regardless of belief

By Amina Nazarli

Azerbaijan supports all communities in the country, regardless of their religious belief, stressed Sheikh-ul-Islam Allahshukur Pashazade, Chairman of the Caucasian Muslims Office.

Pashazade, addressing the International Winter School of multiculturalism "Multiculturalism as a way of life in Azerbaijan: teach, explore, share" on February 10, said the world faces a lot of confrontations now, while Azerbaijan has never experienced intolerance at confessional level.

“Azerbaijan is a home to both Sunnis and Shias. The country is a place where representatives of other religions also enjoy freedom.

“You have come from different countries to see how these people live in Azerbaijan. In our country, tolerance, inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogues are at a high level,” he said.

Reminding that Azerbaijan declared 2016 the Year of Multiculturalism, he said that it is wrong to assume that Azerbaijan had not been multicultural country before.

"We always feel the support of the state. We have restored and built temples including mosques, churches and synagogues. The world community needs to know the truth about Azerbaijan. We look forward to you - young people - you can be our mouthpiece," Pashazade concluded.

The event was also attended by heads of the confessions in Azerbaijan, including Orthodox Community's Head Archbishop Alexander Ischein, Head of Mountain Jews Religious Community MilikhYevdayev, Coordinator of the Catholic Community Vladimir Fekete and Chairman of the Albanian-Udin Christian community, Robert Mobili.

Alexander Ischein, in turn, emphasized that good inter-religious relations in Azerbaijan are a result of the state policy.

Reminding that Azerbaijan is a multinational state, the Archbishop said about 98 percent of the Azerbaijani population is Muslim, and the country has never had any problems and religious conflicts.

Organized jointly by the Baku International Center of Multiculturalism, Knowledge Foundation under the Azerbaijani President and the Baku Slavic University, the International Winter School of multiculturalism will last until February 15 and will be held in Guba, Khachmaz and Gusar regions.

The winter school is attended by 55 students and some 43 of them are from Russia, Switzerland, Ukraine, Turkey, Italy, Portugal, Poland, the Czech Republic, Lithuania and Germany.

From time immemorial Azerbaijan, a country at crossroads of numerous cultures, religions and civilizations, was known as a bridge between Europe and Asia.

Here in Azerbaijan, the representatives of all religions and nationalities live as a family, in an atmosphere of peace, friendship, tranquility and mutual understanding. This is Azerbaijan's great heritage, a great advantage.

Today, the country is a model for many countries in the world for peaceful coexistence of members of different nations and religions.

The International Centre for Multiculturalism was established in Baku in 2014, as a concrete effort to promote the values of multiculturalism. Moreover, earlier in 2008, Azerbaijan launched the so-called “Baku process,” a dialogue between culture ministers, individuals and groups with different cultural and religious backgrounds, promoted as an “antidote to violence.”

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Amina Nazarli is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @amina_nazarli

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