Azerbaijan is a multi-cultural and secular state, and is considered one of the most diverse countries in the world, where all major religions are practiced. Multiculturalism is a state policy of Azerbaijan and it has become a way of life, which says it wants to ensure mutual understanding and respect for all identities. Its peculiar location between Eastern Europe and Western Asia and its socio-political context have prompted Azerbaijan to adopt a multicultural-led agenda as a strategic tool of foreign policy. The intention to develop multiculturalism and tolerance at the level of state policy in Azerbaijan is based on an ancient history of statehood of the country and on development of these traditions.

From a historical perspective, representatives of many ethnic and religious groups have lived together with Azerbaijanis since the era of the Safavids’ empire and during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Azerbaijan, a country which established the first secular democracy in the Muslim world in 1918 and offered women the right to vote in 1919, acts as a model for peaceful coexistence of members of different cultures.

Today there are more than 649 registered religious communities in Azerbaijan, among which 37 are non-Islamic. Azerbaijan boasts 160,000 Orthodox Russians, 20,000 Armenian Christians (mostly in Baku and Ganja), 20,000 Jews and others. The country has multiple churches and synagogues, and has strong relations with Israel and majority Christian Western countries. And Article 48 of the Azerbaijani Constitution ensures religious freedom.
Among these ethnic minorities, the population of Khinalig village is unique in the world for its language. This ethnic minority has descended from the inhabitants of historical Caucasian Albania – a state that covered the lands that now form the Republic of Azerbaijan. Today, the government ensures preservation of the language of this unique population.
Another example of religious and cultural diversity in Azerbaijan is Red Town in Guba. This is one of the largest compact settlements of Jews in the world, outside of Israel. This settlement is also referred as “The Jerusalem of the Caucasus”. Red Town is a model for tolerance and respect for diversity.
It is worth mentioning that there are also German settlements in Azerbaijan, dating back to the beginning of the 19th century. The historical and cultural monument of these settlements – German Lutheran Church from 1854 is still preserved in Goygol, Azerbaijan.

Last, but not least, Azerbaijan is also home to approximately 30 thousand ethnic Armenians, despite the fact that more than 20% of territory of Azerbaijan has been occupied by Armenia. This clearly demonstrates the tolerance of Azerbaijani people for ethnic and religious minorities and diverse cultures. It also confirms that Nagorno Karabakh is NOT a religious war. Armenian government is weaponizing religion, radicalizing their youth with racism and ethnic hatred sentiment, to take attention away from their illegal military occupation of Nagorno Karabakh lasting for almost 30 years.

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Azerbaijani Multiculturalism:…

#NagornoKarabakh #Azerbaijan

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