At the invitation of the influential Presbyterian Church, Consul General of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles Nasimi Aghayev spoke about Azerbaijan’s traditions of interfaith harmony at a large conference “Peace-Ing it Together” held on Feb. 23, 2019 at the Knox Presbyterian Church in Pasadena, California.
Before the presentation titled “Azerbaijan’s Model for Religious Tolerance and Peaceful Coexistence”, a short film on Azerbaijan’s interfaith harmony was screened. Then Consul General Aghayev spoke about Azerbaijan's geographical location, history of its independence and its ancient traditions of peaceful coexistence among various religions. Aghayev mentioned in this regard that today Azerbaijan - a predominantly Muslim nation - is showing with its exemplary model the possibility of lasting peace and mutual respect among Muslims, Christians, Jews, Baha’is and others. The Consul General also highlighted the fact that in 1918 Azerbaijan became the first majority-Muslim nation to establish a secular democracy and to enfranchise women.
In a breakout session on Azerbaijan, Consul General Nasimi Aghayev also spoke on the illegal military occupation and ethnic cleansing of Azerbaijan’s Karabakh region by neighboring Armenia. Highlighting the history of the conflict, Aghayev mentioned that as a result of this military occupation of around 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s sovereign territory, over 800,000 Azerbaijani civilians were expelled from the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts. Aghayev noted that Armenia refuses to fulfill four United Nations Security Council resolutions condemning the occupation. Aghayev also stressed that during the last 30 years of the conflict Armenia has carried out a true “cultural genocide” against Azerbaijani religious and cultural heritage in Armenia itself and in the occupied lands of Azerbaijan. “After the expulsion of all Azerbaijanis, and most of the Kurds, Jews and others from the country, Armenia has become a monoethnic and monoreligious state, where various forms of ethnic and religious hatred such as azerbaijanophobia and antisemitism have almost been elevated to the level of state policy and identity,” said Aghayev. He stressed the hope that after the change of Armenian government last April, when the criminal regime that was ruling Armenia for the last 20 years was overthrown, the prospect of the conflict’s resolution might look more promising than ever before.
At the end, Consul General Aghayev answered numerous questions from the participants.
A short video of the Consul General’s presentation can be watched here