“The US State Department's report does not reflect an objective approach to religious freedom in Azerbaijan,” says Mubariz Gurbanlı

/ 12.06.2020 / 15:22

The section related to the Republic of Azerbaijan in the US State Department's 2019 International Religious Freedom Report contains several views that are far from the objectiveness, some points is concerned to the previous years and have already found its solution along with positive views in the field of religion in our country. Underlined Mubariz Gurbanly, the Chairman of the State Committee on Religious Associations of the Republic of Azerbaijan in his interview to Trend News Agency.

Mr. Gurbanlı mentioned that Azerbaijan is a secular state and the Constitution of Azerbaijan fully guarantees freedom of religion and freedom of conscience. "Today, thanks to the policy pursued in the country under the Presidency of Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijan is among the exemplary countries in the world in terms of freedom of religion.  It is no coincidence that, the country declared the Year of Multiculturalism and the Year of Islamic Solidarity as well as hosted a number of events. Moreover, the policy pursued in the field of religion in Azerbaijan has created a great opportunity for harmony, mutual understanding, tolerance and multicultural environment between religious denominations in the country.

There are some points in the report that we have an opportunity to indicate that the views on each of those points are not objective when we review it thoroughly such as the report addresses the issue of registration of religious communities in Azerbaijan. I would like to draw to your attention that the possibilities of registration in country’s legislation are the most progressive and exemplary. In other words, 50 citizens in Azerbaijan can come together and register a religious community. However, this number is higher in some European countries. Today, if we look at the statistics, 942 religious organizations registered in Azerbaijan. From a confessional point of view, 907 of them are Islam and 35 are non-Islam (Christian - 24; Jewish – 8; Krishna - 1; Baha'i - 2) and there is no any restriction in this field. Unfortunately, this report contains a wrong view in this regard. When it comes to Jehovah's Witnesses, there are some points regarding with this matter reflects 3-4 years ago and has been a subject of court proceeding and we see it in the report again. However, there is no any problem regarding with Jehovah's Witnesses in our country. The Jehovah's Witnesses Center has repeatedly thanked our country for the steps taken on this organization in Azerbaijan. There are other non-Muslim communities that their registration and activities have not been restricted at the same time.

Another point is that, the report also contains views related to the known incidents in Ganja that have no any connection to the freedom of religion. The participants of the incident were extremist-radical groups misusing the name of religion. The incident was the subject of judicial investigation and there is a judicial decision, crime was committed and some individuals were punished. The report attempted to link the incident to a religious issue and it is a completely wrong approach.

In general, extremist and terrorist acts were committed under name of religion, police officers were injured and some of them were killed in Nardaran and Ganja.

Both incidents are nothing but attempts to carry out destructive activities against the socio-political stability of our country, the environment of tolerance, state-religion relations, legal and democratic foundations and the constitutional structure of the state under the guise of religion. Thus, that none of the individuals prosecuted for one or another similar incident were arrested for religious activity.

 As I mentioned, along with underlying positive events on the works done in Azerbaijan the report contains wrong views and biased points that we cannot accept. In this regard, the State Committee on Religious Associations will develop a document and express its position.  

The Chairman of the committee stated that Azerbaijan is a democratic country and the rights and freedoms of citizens in Azerbaijan, democratic freedoms are not because of someone: “This is the choice of the Azerbaijani people, the provisions specified in the Constitution of Azerbaijan. Therefore, we do not determine our policy because of any country or organization. This is the policy pursued by our President, and the document adopted at the second summit of world religious leaders in Azerbaijan last year reflects Azerbaijan as the most exemplary country in terms of religious tolerance. "Unfortunately, the US State Department's report does not reflect an objective approach to religious freedom, freedom of conscience and the policy pursued in Azerbaijan," Mr. Gurbanlı added.


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