Azerbaijan is hosting the V International Summer School of Multiculturalism on “Intercultural Dialogue in the Context of Religious and Cultural Diversity – Interreligious Harmony in Azerbaijan”.

Some 60 students from the leading universities of 26 countries – Azerbaijan, Germany, Switzerland, Estonia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Afghanistan, Australia, the USA, Russia, Ukraine, Norway, Benin, Tunisia, Egypt, Israel, Poland, Great Britain, France, Libya, Brazil, China and other countries are attending the Summer School held by the organizational efforts of Baku International Centre of Multiculturalism, UNESCO, “Erasmus+”, “ALADDIN Project” and the Club of the Young Friends of Azerbaijan. The project of the international winter and summer schools of multiculturalism is the continuation of the project “Teaching ‘The Course of Azerbaijani Multiculturalism’ at Foreign and National Universities” implemented at President Ilham Aliyev’s recommendation. The aim of the winter and summer schools organized for the students studying Azerbaijani multiculturalism at 15 prestigious universities of the world and 38 higher educational institutions of Azerbaijan in the frames of the educational project is to enable those young people to witness in practice what they have theoretically learnt in our country where multicultural and tolerant values have been maintained.

The activities of the V International Summer School of Multiculturalism to be continued till 30 July will cover the districts of Gakh, Shaki, Gabala and Ismayilli along with the city of Baku where the participants’ meetings with the leaders of different religious and ethnic communities living in Azerbaijan as well as the outstanding state and religious figures will be arranged.

In the evening on 24 July the participants of the Summer School arrived in the district of Gakh in accordance with the program.

That evening a cultural program with the participation of the local music and dance ensembles was organized for the students accomodated at the hotel “El Resort”.

In the first half of 25 July the leading expert Irina Kunina read a lecture on “Ethnic Diversity in Azerbaijan” in the frames of the Summer School.

First, the lecturer addressed the audience with the question “How do you understand multiculturalism?” The students stated that multiculturalism is the peaceful and secure co-existence of people with diverse national and religious views.

Further, a film reflecting Azerbaijan’s multicultural state and ethnic scene was demontrated.

Irina Kunina noted that Azerbaijan is a poli-ethnic state. There are numerous factors generating Azerbaijan’s ethnic-cultural scene. The national minorities, ethnic groups and nations living in Azerbaijan – the Udis, Ingiloys, Jews, Tats, Talyshes, Lezghiz and other minorities – have historically been shaped here and constitute the single poli-ethnic Azerbaijani people together with the Azerbaijani Turks.

Irina Kunina, who compared the Azerbaijani model of multiculturalism with the models of Canada, the USA, Australia and other countries, and underlined the similarities and differences among these models, emphasized the respect towards other ethnic groups and religious confessions in the ideology of Azerbaijanianism. She pointed out that it is due to this reason that in different periods the inflow and compact settlement in Azerbaijan of the representatives of different ethnic groups did not generate any problem. The co-existence of the Malakans, Jews and other ethnic groups with diverse religious and language identities for centuries and the absence of the registration of any facts of confrontation so far characterize the positive essence of Azerbaijani multiculturalism.

Further, Tudor Parfitt, Professor of Florida International University (the USA) delivered a lecture on “Judaism and Islam in the Near East: Tolerance, Diversity and Modernity”.

The lecturer, who gave interesting information based on historical facts about the holy texts in Islam and Judaism, focused the attention on the problem ongoing between these religions for centuries and associated the problems mostly with the lack of dialogue. The professor prioritized the importance of open discussions and dialogue on different levels and formats as the solution to these problems.

Following the lectures, broad discussions were held about the issues interesting to the participants.

In accordance with the program, in the second half of the day the participants of the summer school will be acquanted with the historical sights of the district of Gakh – Sumug Castle, Sangar Castle, Kurmuk Temple, Old Mosque, Gakh District History Museum.