Throughout long history of Azerbaijan, many nationalities and different ethnic groups with various religious beliefs have lived together in peace and harmony, and that’s why the country can proudly be called a land of religious tolerance.
Azerbaijani people have developed a mentality of kindness towards all people who live within its territory despite nationality, roots, culture and religion.
While the entire world experiences great problems based on religious intolerance and conflicts, Azerbaijan can serve as best example of a community where each person shows respect to human-beings of different races and religions.
The issues assume a particular importance in times when Europe faces terrorist attacks, aggression of the newly emerged nationalistic parties.
Being a Muslim-majority country has not prevented Azerbaijan from becoming home to Christians, Jews and other religious confessions. Till today, the history has not recorded a single conflict between Christians, Jews and Muslims – the three main groups of believers.
The Jews running away from the Jewish kingdom, ruined as a result of occupation of Jerusalem by Babil ruler Novukhodonosur the Second (586 B.C.) found refuge on the territory of Azerbaijan. The first followers of Christianity settled in Azerbaijan in the first century A.C. and laid a foundation of Albanian autocephaly church that later was set up there. The traditions of tolerance even strengthened with the spread of Islam on the territory of Azerbaijan. The Muslim tolerance bases on the suras and citations from the holy book Koran. According to historians, Muslims displayed tolerance and patience to Judaism, Christianity and Zoroastrian trend in 7th-8th century.
The common history united the people with different views and beliefs and brought them together. Today, representatives of various religions even join their activity and participate in charitable work carried out in the country.
What’s the secret? The reason for peaceful coexistence in one country is the right, well-considered policy of the state, which promotes and supports multiculturalism and tolerance. Various religious communities feel the care of the state in preservation, reconstruction of churches, both orthodox and catholic, mosques, synagogues and even settlements.
For example, Krasnaya Sloboda is one of the rare places in the world densely populated by the Jews. The Jews living in this village, which is called "Israel of the Caucasus", have been keeping their traditions for many years. The religious community and the center of the national culture of the Jews are functioning here. Azerbaijan's Community of Mountain Jews is one of the largest of the three Jewish communities of the Caucasus, going back to the Jews of ancient Persia who are believed to have settled in the region 1,000 years ago. They speak Juhuri, a mixture of Hebrew and Farsi.
There have always been strong traditions of tolerance and mutual respect among different ethnic and religious communities. Thanks to tireless efforts by Azerbaijan’s leadership, these traditions have been further fostered and strengthened since Azerbaijan regained its independence.
The government constantly meets with the leaders of religious communities and displays interest in their problems and needs. The major religious holidays of Christians and Jewish people are being marked accross the country.
Moreover, Azerbaijan often hosts international conferences and meetings of religious representatives, since the country has established its own model of interfaith dialogue and religious tolerance.
Of course, all these issues are being noticed and hailed by the representatives of various religions from different countries.
Pope Francis has recently recalled his visit to Azerbaijan, saying “that the religions can be builders of harmony based on personal relations and on the good will of those responsible.”
Despite being a Muslim-majority country, Azerbaijan is a secular state which managed to build strong relations with all religious communities. This is why safety and stability were easily achieved here. State policy on religions reflects the will of the people and the atmosphere created by its help allows representatives of various ethnic minorities to feel comfortable within the Azerbaijani territory.
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