The Hill: Azerbaijan known for its tolerant environment

The Hill: Azerbaijan known for its tolerant environment
The publication presents Holiday hope: A glimpse of Christians, Muslims at peace

Baku. 29 December. REPORT.AZ/ Azerbaijan is known for its tolerant environment among religions, its religious harmony among Muslims.

Report informs, says article “Holiday hope: A glimpse of Christians, Muslims at peace” published by The Hill.

"Imagine my surprise, then, a few days ago when I landed in Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital, at 4 a.m. Nothing, I thought, could possibly energize me after flying almost 17 exhausting hours and 7,232 miles from Los Angeles.

Yet, a few hundred yards from the junction of the airport road and the main highway into the city, my eyes widened and my brain awoke: Here, in a country that is more than 95% Muslim, that was ravaged by hundreds of years of Russian and atheist Soviet autocratic rule, were a dozen reindeer made of wire and electric lights. A half-mile farther, a government-run SOCAR gas station was lit up with Christmas lights and decorations, including a Santa Claus.

“Christmas?” I exclaimed, “Really?” At 4 o’clock in the morning, I was staring at Christmas decorations - in a Muslim country surrounded by Muslim countries such as Iran, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Muslim Russian republics, and just two borders with Christian Armenia and Georgia.

All the way into Baku, you saw Christmas decorations. When I entered the lobby of my hotel, there was a 30-foot-tall decorated Christmas tree. Every table in the hotel’s restaurants had Christmas decorations", paper reads.

"Later, I registered for the conference “2017 - Year of Islamic Solidarity: Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue”. I was attending as a media representative. Attendees came from all over the world: the United States, Japan, Indonesia, India, Central Asia, Russia, Pakistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, the Vatican and many European countries. I even met the Mufti of Bulgaria, an Islamic scholar who interprets and expounds on Islamic law.

Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, opened the conference. Translated into English, his words were tolerant and augured well for the conference; but he did point out that 20 percent of the country is occupied by Armenian forces that have ignored United Nations resolutions demanding their withdrawal.

Every other speaker but one joined President Aliyev in talking about peace, tolerance and co-existence. And why not? Azerbaijan is known for its tolerant environment among religions, its religious harmony among Sunni and Shia Muslims", The Hill writes.

"In a single day I visited a Russian Orthodox church in Baku as well as a Roman Catholic church, a Sunni Muslim mosque, a Shia Muslim mosque and a Jewish synagogue. North of Baku I visited two synagogues and a Shia mosque within sight of each other.

“There is also an Armenian cathedral in Baku with more than 5,000 ancient Armenian books that the Azerbaijan government is maintaining pristinely. Other faiths function freely in Azerbaijan, including Bah’ais and Zoroastrians”, the article reads.

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