On 6 August the State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations

held a meeting with the participants of the VII International Summer School of Multiculturalism taking place under the title “Baku Process 10 Years: As a Contribution to the Intercultural Dialogue”.

The Deputy Chair of the State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations Gunduz Ismayilov spoke of our people’s traditions of tolerance, the related state policy as well as the activities of the State Committee.

Gunduz Ismayilov stated that in Azerbaijan populated 96% by Muslims the representatives of all religions – Muslims, Christians, Jews have co-existed peacefully and fraternally for centuries. The Deputy Chair, who noted that in Azerbaijan hundreds of Muslim and tens of non-Muslim religious communities have officially been registered, said that all religions and religious organizations are equal before the Law. He stressed that neither priority nor restriction can be defined in regard to any religion or religious organization. Gunduz Ismayilov emphasized the inter-religious harmony in our country as an example of tolerance rare in the world from this point of view. The Deputy Chair, who said that religious endurance is a legal norm for others whereas it is a lifestyle for us, stated that tolerance is an issue of culture and morality for our people. He pointed out the important role of the exemplary relations between the state and religion founded by the National Leader Heydar Aliyev and today continued by President Ilham Aliyev in the maintenance of such kind of great moral ambiance historically existent in our country.

Speaking of the activities of the institution represented by him, the Deputy Chair noted that the State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations pursues the religious policy of the government, officially registers the religious organizations, renders necessary assistance to them, and mediates between the appropriate executive power organs and religious organizations.

As a manifestation of the state support of religion Gunduz Ismayilov spoke also of the organizations established under the subordination of the State Committee. He stated that at present the Foundation for Spiritual Values is rendering assistance to 1068 religious figures. He added that every year material support is being rendered also to non-Muslim religious communities. The Deputy Chair emphasized that Azerbaijan Institute of Theology is going to train specialists in Christianity and Judaism along with Islam.

Providing the students with the information on the realities of Azerbaijan, the Deputy Chair pointed out that in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan tens of Alban monuments have been Grigorianized and destroyed, the mosques have been exposed to Armenian vandalism. The Deputy Chair pointed out that the Armenian Church is being maintained in the centre of Baku, despite all this.

The meeting ended in answers to the students’ questions.