By Vafa Ismayilova
President Ilham Aliyev has criticized Armenia’s destruction of Azerbaijani mosques in recently-liberated territories that had remained under Armenian occupation in the past three decades.
Aliyev made the remarks at a meeting with the visiting delegation led by ICESCO Director-General Salim bin Mohammed AlMalik in Baku on January 13.
Commenting on the ICESCO delegation’s recent visit to Aghdam and other liberated lands, Aliyev said that the destructions in those areas showed how Armenian leadership treated the religious feelings and history of Muslims.
“They destroyed all our mosques except one, the one in Aghdam they did not completely destroy only because they needed to have some landmark to plan their artillery attacks, if or when Azerbaijani army moves forward. They needed to measure the distance. That was the reason. But there have been numerous pictures and videos on how they keep pigs and cows in our mosque. And this is an insult not only to Azerbaijanis but to all the Muslims,” the president stressed.
Aliyev reiterated that as part of his visit to liberated Zangilan in late December 2020, he visited the ruins of a completely destroyed mosque. He noted that in Shusha, all the mosques were completely destroyed, except one, which was also half destroyed.
“To demonstrate that they protect Islamic cultural and religious sites, they tried to make some repair works. Unfortunately, one foreign company joined this provocative initiative and without our permission came to Shusha, violating our legislation, violating our borders. Without the permission of Azerbaijani government that foreign company under the patronage of the illegal regime which existed in Nagorno-Karabakh at that time, made some repairments,” Aliyev said.
He stressed that the company in question became the partner to Armenian criminals, who destroyed almost 70 mosques on the occupied territories.
“Trying to make repairments in one of them was just an attempt to demonstrate that they are tolerant, that they respect the Muslim culture, the feelings of the Muslims. If they did so, why they did destroy the others, and why they did not repair the others? And that foreign company which came to Shusha, didn’t they see that other mosques are destroyed?” he said.
Aliyev noted that the company behaved even worse than separatists who destroyed it.
The head of state stressed that Azerbaijan will restore everything.
“We will bring everything to its initial origin and rebuild the territories. I am sure that next time you visit us you will have also an opportunity to visit Shusha which was announced by me as the capital of Azerbaijani culture,” he said.
Furthermore, Aliyev thanked ICESCO (Islamic Education, Science and Culture Organization) for showing solidarity with Azerbaijan during the years of close cooperation and the 44-day war with Armenia that lasted between September 27 and November 10, 2020.
“I would like to express gratitude to you Mr Director-General personally and to ICESCO for continuous support to Azerbaijan during all the years of our close cooperation. Especially I would like to express gratitude for decisions made during the war. In early October, just several days after the war started ICESCO issued a very supportive statement, decisions to support Azerbaijan’s just cause,” the head of state said.
Aliyev also thanked AlMalik for his letter of congratulations with respect to Azerbaijan’s victory.
“All this demonstrates our unity, demonstrates the unity of our people. As you know, Azerbaijan always was a strong advocate for issues related to Islamic solidarity and there were numerous events of ICESCO in Azerbaijan. I hope this will continue and we always called for unity among Muslim countries,” he added.
ICESCO’s regional centre
At the meeting, Aliyev also focused on the opening of ICESCO’s regional centre in Azerbaijan.
“One of the issues I wanted to discuss with you, is the issue related to the regional centre of ICESCO in Azerbaijan. You know that this issue was in discussion during the last 3-4 years, and we want to revive the discussions. If there is a positive movement I think we can do it very soon and that will be very important for us and for all the people who contribute to the strengthening of Islamic solidarity and protection of Islamic cultural heritage,” he said.
The president stressed the special importance he gave to AlMalik’s visit.
In turn, the ICESCO director-general described Azerbaijan as a priority country for the organization. Addressing Ilham Aliyev, he said: "Rest assured that Azerbaijan is a priority for us and has always been and will continue to be. We celebrated the victory because it is part of us. Your victory is part of ICESCO victory. Our member states are very important and regardless of who they are we will support them by all means. With me, I brought the most important people. I want them to witness and see what has happened to and also celebrate Victory," AlMalik said.
The ICESCO director-general shared his impressions about the delegation's visit to liberated territories.
"We visited the liberated area, and we have seen the tragedy and we have seen something that we have never seen before. The city that has been totally destroyed, razed to the ground, that is totally inhumane and cannot be accepted by any measures. It is a crime for humanity," he added.
Meanwhile, he highly appreciated the passion and willingness among the Azerbaijanis to rebuild the region.
"We are very proud to see that kind of willingness," he said.
As part of the visit to Azerbaijan’s liberated territories, the ISESCO delegation visited Fuzuli region on January 12 and Aghdam on January 13. The visit will last until January 15.
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