Mubariz Gurbanli: Azerbaijan has never experienced religious, racial, and ethnic discrimination.

/ 19.02.2021 / 15:41

United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) has convened a Special Ministerial Meeting on a virtual platform on “Reimagining Equality: Eliminating racism, xenophobia and discrimination for all in the decade of action for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)” at UN headquarters on February 18th.

In a videoconference moderated by ECOSOC President Munir Akram and with the participation of   representatives from over 20 countries, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in his opening remarks that World leaders agreed on elimination of root causes of violence, human rights violations, corruption, marginalization, all forms of discrimination, poverty, isolation, illiteracy, and unemployment on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations in September, 2020.  Measures stated in various international human rights instruments against racism, 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Declaration on the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations and other relevant documents are more urgent today than ever. The Secretary-General stressed the importance of addressing all kinds of root causes of discrimination and systematic inequality.

Focusing on the importance of the subject of the meeting in his video conference speech, the Chairman of the State Committee on Religious Associations of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mubariz Gurbanli said that National Coordination Council on Sustainable Development of the Azerbaijan Republic is operating which has been created by the decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan in 2016 aimed at coordinating the implementation of obligations arising from the “Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. The model of secular state was adopted in the constitution of independent Azerbaijan by referendum. Today, the state-religion model which is being implemented under President Ilham Aliyev’s leadership is based on secularism, tolerance, and multicultural principles. Azerbaijan is a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional country.

The Chairman said that despite large Muslim population in Azerbaijan, religious communities of different minorities live together peacefully and friendly, our state holds an important place among countries which has never experienced religious, racial, and ethnic discrimination and anti-semitism. Azerbaijan constantly promotes interfaith and intercultural dialogue, hosts international events in this regard. Registered religious communities have now reached to 963. Azerbaijan is a home to 14 churches, historical churches of Caucasian Albania, 7 synagogues, fire worships that belong to Zoroastrianism and places of worship of different religions along with over 2,000 mosques, Mr. Gurbanli underlined.   

The Chairman of the Committee expressed that Armenia’s policy of ethnic cleansing and genocide in the South Caucasus, territorial claims against neighboring countries impede dialogue and peaceful coexistence. During the occupation of Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region and 7 adjacent districts by Armenia, they had vandalized those areas, razed to the ground or altered its cultural and religious heritage - destroyed mosques, shrines or turned into animal stables, destroyed churches, cemeteries, changed and gregorianized interior and exterior of monuments of ancient Caucasian Albania. It is no coincidence that several foreign journalists called those settlements “city of ghosts”, “little Hiroshima”. The restoration process of historical and religious sites that vandalized by Armenia has been launched by the state on the liberated lands following the 44-Day War which led to the victory of Azerbaijan over the Armenian occupants.

He stated that Armenia attempted to present the conflict at the religious level to achieve Christian bigotry by involving clergy in this war. However, everyone knows that representatives of Muslims, Christians, Jews, and other religions including over 30,000 of Armenians live freely in Azerbaijan and the state protects the Armenian Apostolic Church in the city centre in Baku.

İn the end of his speech, the Chairman of the Committee brought to the attention of the meeting participants that at present, ensuring of unity and harmony which is the main contribution of religions to people and calls for criticism of racial and religious discrimination, extremism and separatism by religious leaders are important.

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