Baku. 21 October. REPORT.AZ/ Report News Agency presents an interview with Mubariz Gurbanli, Chairman of the State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations (SCWRO) of Azerbaijan.
- Mr. Gurbanli, which issues were mainly discussed in the meetings during your visit to the Republic of Turkey?
- On October 9-11, we attended the Summit entitled "Islam in Eurasia, Unity and Solidarity Against Religious Exploitation and a Perspective for the Future" at the invitation of Head of Turkey's Directorate of Religious Affairs, Mehmet Görmez. Aim of the visit was to exchange views on the future of Islam in the region and actions exploiting religion, religious education institutions, global threats and violence, ISIS, impacts of the FETÖ on Eurasia, ways of prevention of religious abuse and other issues. Two-day speeches and discussions showed that all the participating countries are in the principled position toward such issues and support joint struggle. Also, actual problems as migrant tragedies of the modern world, Muslims and non-Muslims discrimination among the migrants in the West, which introduces itself as an adherent of democracy and human rights, were discussed.
- Which issues were mainly stressed regarding fight against the FETÖ?
- President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Chairman of the Caucasian Muslims Office Allahshukur Pashazade and other speakers emphasized FETÖ as one of the dangerous terrorist organizations of the modern era. Attending the event as a delegation, we have once again stated distinct stand of our state and President Ilham Aliyev as well as condemned terrorist incidents in friendly Turkey, including July 15 coup attempt, paid attention towards staying honest during a severe case by joining around President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan despite biased attitude of some countries.
Azerbaijan has always demonstrated its protest against all terror acts in all cases, including actions of ISIS and FETÖ as well as will further demonstrated this stand. We have stressed that our state will always support justice.
As repeatedly emphasized by President Ilham Aliyev, terrorism is a universal scourge and despite under which name disguised, our country supports joint cooperation in combating terrorism in all its forms. As in all other areas, Turkey is Azerbaijan's main partner in this issue, too.
- As to your opinion, in which areas were FETÖsupporters operating in Azerbaijan?
- There may be certain links of this organization in Azerbaijan, however, it has no strong ideological foundations in the country. They entered in the country abusing chaotic situation in the first years of our state independence.
As in other countries, their first operation was related to penetration into the education sector. They opened lyceums, universities here. They could operate easily as were giving education better than in the Soviet-era. However, by strengthening, our state began works to prevent their action as other radical movements. Starting from 2009, books, video and audio materials of Fethullah Gülen and nursists were neither imported nor spread in Azerbaijan. I can say unequivocally that FETÖ has no relation with religion, it is not a religious, but a political organization disguised in the name of religion. Our law enforcement agencies carry out intense and successful operation to reveal supporters of Fethullah Gülen's ideology in such or other form and to prevent them.
- A few months ago, the Turkish media forwarded a claim that over 3 000 "Işık evi" (light house) operate in Azerbaijan. How real is this issue?
- Openly, I have no any information where this figure was taken from and whom is referred to, but I believe that it is very exaggerated information.This issue is under full control and certain measures are being taken.
- Mr. Gurbanli, can there be any relation between those who leave Azerbaijan for Syria to fight and those who serve to the organization of FETÖ?
- As mentioned above, regardless of operating under any name, the Azerbaijani government condemns all terrorist organizations and struggles against them. A terrorist is a terrorist, not its appearance, but world outlook is condemned. And we don't divide terrorists into loyal and radical groups. Because finally, both of them are threat to society, state and mankind. For example, if you look at the events that took place in Turkey on July 15, we can say that ISIS comes as open threat, while FETÖ is like a time bomb in the various structures of the state, which can be exploded at any time. That is, "common value" exists joining ISIS and FETÖ: subversion, anarchy and terror.
- In which regions various are subversive activities mostly observed in Azerbaijan under the guise of religion?
- We don't support such a division. We have a comprehensive approach to such issues and we are guided by it in our action. Otherwise, the radicals may use special attention, control over the area and strengthen in other regions.
- Is there a problem regarding confusion of religious and national identity in Azerbaijan?
- Azerbaijan is a multi-religious, multi-cultural country and representatives of many religions have been coexisting peacefully here for centuries. As the national leader Heydar Aliyev said, this is our spiritual wealth and richness. We follow the media, some persons want to bring up this question from time to time, but we have set aside this issue in 1993 - after return to the power of the national leader and it is useless to be actualized after this. Because selection of one of them means to push supporter of the other into the background and to refuse the mentioned spiritual wealth in a roundabout way. Regardless of religious or national identity we all have one homeland: Azerbaijan.
- Mr. Gurbanli, were there women in Azerbaijan, joined ISIS alone, not with their families?
- If you remember, until last year, radical groupssubjected some youths to their influence through dirty propaganda and involved in wars in the various countries under guise of religion. Of course, the aims were different. Some left for material interest, however, remorsefully returned after seeing real situation in the place, others were in the transition period of adolescence and adulthood and were looking for a new adventure. Few of them left to fight in the name of jihad, which were under influence of radical groups. They didn't understand in time that, for example, battles in Syria have no relation with a religion and Azerbaijanis and it's conflicts of geopolitical interests. The State Committee has been carrying out great educational work. Our analysis and observations show that over the past one year, even one person didn't leave Azerbaijan for other countries to fight. Many of them remorsefully returned. Also, those, who were giving moral support to the persons leaving Azerbaijan other to fight in other countries were neutralized, their activity was completely prevented.