Ilham Aliyev received members of the Supreme Religious Council of Caucasian People

17 november 2014, 20:15

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has received members of the Supreme Religious Council of Caucasian People, who are participating in an international conference on strengthening religious tolerance (Azerbaijan’s model of religious tolerance and existing challenges in the OSCE area and beyond).

President Ilham Aliyev said:

- I`m glad to see you in Baku again. Welcome! I`m glad that our meetings are held in a regular manner. We have frequently met in Baku, and had meetings in other places of Azerbaijan too. And, of course, I`m glad that you are participating in an international conference that addresses the issues of religious tolerance. It is a very important topic both in our region, in the world, in general, in the Middle East, and in Europe. For its part Azerbaijan is trying to make efforts to improve understanding among representatives of various religions and nations. We regularly hold events. We held the international humanitarian forum four times, and religious solidarity and tolerance was one of the main topics. We held the international conference on inter-cultural dialogue two times. We also held the summit of the world`s religious leaders in Baku. So Azerbaijan is playing an important role in this area taking into account the history, geography and present-day realities.

Of course, the issues of security, peace unite us. These are our common issues in the Caucasus. The Caucasus is our common home. Security, development and prosperity of the Caucasus is our primary concern. Certainly the role of religious leaders is very important in terms of the brining up of the young generation in the spirit of our traditions and cooperation. It is also important taking into consideration that there has always been great respect to the elders – our religious leaders, and we must preserve and strengthen these traditions so that the youth in our republics is raised in the spirit of our religious and national traditions. Our traditions are based on the good, peace, brotherhood. Islam is a religion of peace. We are very concerned about the efforts to artificially blacken our religion in the world media, equate Islam with terrorism, extremism. This information background is backed by irresponsible statements of some politicians who are playing right into the hands of those who do not want peace to be established among confessions throughout the world. Therefore this conference is another opportunity for delivering our views, position, religious values to the world community so that there is mutual understanding and respect. This will make the world safer.

Mutual respect, international law, justice, religious values are the strong foundation for the development of the world in a positive direction. But unfortunately we see the contrary. Through joint efforts we will strengthen both security, cooperation and development in the Caucasus. Once again I wholeheartedly welcome you. I hope that your participation in this conference will be pleasant and fruitful.

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Chairman of the Coordinating Council of Muslims of the North Caucasus, Mufti of Karachay-Cherkessia of the Russian Federation Ismayil Berdiyev said:

- Thank you very much, Ilham Heydarovich. We really came here with great pleasure because we love Azerbaijan. Baku is becoming more and more beautiful. Each time you see novelties and think: what else can be done?! And then you see a completely different picture.
Ismayil Berdiyev said Azerbaijan is rapidly developing, adding the largest mosque is being built in the capital.
- What you are doing comes from your roots. Your father and Sheikhulislam visited Kaaba. There are photos. He then visited it together with you. So all the work comes from this.

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President Ilham Aliyev said:

- I highly appreciate our friendship, personal relations, your relationship with our Sheikh. For centuries we have lived in friendship and peace, and will continue to live so. Of course, we must preserve this value. We are doing our best to bring our peoples closer to each other and make religious and spiritual values the basis of the development of our country.

I remembered our previous meetings. Together we participated in the opening of Bibiheybat mosque after expansion and repair, in fact, restoration, then in the opening of Ajdarbay mosque after repair, and in the inauguration of Azerbaijan`s most ancient mosque in Shamakhi. And I also hope that you will participate in the opening of the largest mosque, which is now being constructed in Baku . I`m sure that our relations will further strengthen.

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Chairman of the Caucasian Muslims Office sheikhulislam Allahshukur Pashazade said:

- Mr. President,
You are doing great work for Islam, religion, the people. On this Tolerance Day I would like to pay tribute to national leader Heydar Aliyev because on this day he always gathered us together, met, spoke with and guided us. The fundamentals of this tolerance were laid by Mr. Heydar Aliyev. And this tradition continues today. This, as you said, once again demonstrates how much you value your roots, Islam and morality. I thank you for this.

With your moral support the Caucasian Muslims Office is doing great work. The government of Azerbaijan and the Caucasian Muslims Office teamed up with the offices of OSCE and UNESCO in our country to hold such a conference, the first of its kind.

It is an evidence of the freedom of religion, conscience and tolerance in Azerbaijan. It is you who created these conditions for us. Therefore we express our gratitude to you for this.

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President Ilham Aliyev:

- Thank you very much. Once again I praise your role in strengthening stability, security and development in the Caucasus.

President Ilham Aliyev said Azerbaijan and the North Caucasus nations have historically enjoyed friendly relations. The head of state noted that the North Caucasus people living in Azerbaijan, and Azerbaijanis living in the North Caucasus republics are playing a significant role in strengthening this friendship.

The head of state said:

- The conference is held at the house of Murtuza Mukhtarov. He was one of the richest people in Azerbaijan and a philanthropist. He built that home for his wife as a gift. His wife was from Ossetia. He also funded the building of a mosque in Vladikavkaz. He was a man of dignity. He died tragically. After the Bolshevik revolution, soldiers entered his house in an attempt to take him out. Most of the historical buildings in Baku were constructed by rich people. The majority of them were men of dignity. They were investing in the construction of schools, hospitals. Shollar water pipeline, which we still use, was constructed by the funds of one of these rich people, philanthropist Zeynalabdin Taghiyev. Murtuza Mukhtarov did not let the bandits desecrate his house. He took his gun and shot some of the attackers, and died himself too. This is the story.

Naturally in the Soviet period everything was nationalized. The building housed various offices. Then it was made a marriage palace. I also had my marriage registered there. The house then was in poor condition. For several years we were repairing the building because we needed to preserve the historical part of it and renew. Now it also functions as a marriage palace. Marriage ceremonies are registered, various state events held here.

As you know all historical mosques have been restored in Azerbaijan, with hundred of new ones built in the past years. But we have pain in our heart because our mosques in the occupied lands, Nagorno-Karabakh, Shusha were destroyed. There are photos of this in the Internet. The occupant Armenian forces also destroyed Aghdam mosque and many others. But in Baku we restored an Armenian church. It is in the city center. Everyone can see it. This shows our intentions and theirs. It is the result of the topic that you discuss – tolerance. Humane and religious norms must not be violated even under the conditions of war. Unfortunately it is what we see. The destroyed mosques testify to vandalism.

In other cases too the universal norms of conduct and morality were violated in this manner. A couple of years ago our hero became a shahid. He alone annihilated more than 10 occupants and died himself. He faced certain death. They did not return his body for months. Imagine, for months! There is not such barbarity in any religion. He is a hero, he was defending his motherland, he died on his soil. He did not die on an alien soil. And such episodes, of course, aggravate the situation in the Caucasus. Unlike newcomers, we – those who have lived in the Caucasus for millennia – are preserving and will preserve our traditions. We will try our best to improve the life of our peoples.

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Plenipotentiary Representative of the Caucasian Muslims Office in the Russian Federation Shafik Pshikhachev said:

- I would also like to express my gratitude to you. Thank you very much. It is always a pleasure to come to Baku. Baku always impresses us with its development rate. But the most important is your constant care. And we value what you say when we meet. It is a constant spiritual component, which cannot be overestimated.

I would like to say that we have already met with you. Thanks to your support, the representative office of the Caucasian Muslims Office will, inshallah, start to fully operate in the Russian Federation. All legal documents were drawn up, everything is in accordance with the laws of the Russian Federation, new laws of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Inshallah, we are determined to work with the embassy, the office of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation in Moscow. Inshallah, we are absolutely sure that the office will help to bring the people of the Russian Federation and our brotherly Azerbaijan closer to each other, and contribute to their fruitful cooperation. Thank you very much. We will keep you informed, we will work. We realize our responsibility. Inshallah, we will work in this area.

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President Ilham Aliyev said:

- Thank you very much. I`m also very pleased that you have an office in Moscow. It is especially important taking into account that our relations have been actively and dynamically developing recently and also considering ties between our governments. I would also say that our Sheikh has brotherly relations with the Patriarch of All-Russia, His Holiness Kirill. These relations are based on friendship, brotherhood. It`s very important. Both Russia and Azerbaijan are multinational and multiconfessional countries. Therefore peace in our countries depends on interaction, mutual understanding and support of representatives of all religions. So we are interacting with Russia in a bilateral format. Certainly personal ties between the Patriarkh and the Sheikh play an important role. I remember Patriarkh Kirill`s trip to Baku and his visiting the mosque. It was the first time when he visited a mosque. And it`s very symbolic that this happened in Azerbaijan.

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Plenipotentiary Representative Shafik Pshikhachev said:

- Such tolerance is not only about tolerating each other. It is about fruitful and active interaction. We understand that we must move forward together in this direction.

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President Ilham Aliyev said:

- It`s absolutely true. Tolerance is much spoken about now. But this concept must be rightly defined. And such conferences are aimed at this. It`s not about refusing your own values, it`s not cosmopolitism, it`s not a part of globalization. I think that it is, first and foremost, commitment to your values and your people, respect for your religion and other religions. You`re right to say that it`s not about tolerating each other. On the contrary, it`s about encouragement so that there are better relations and more understanding. Various media are overtly carrying out anti-Islamic propaganda. We cannot tolerate this. We declare this here, at international forums, at the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. We declare that this must be stopped. One of the issues we raised during our chairmanship of the UN Security Council was collaboration between the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the UN on these matters. Therefore this day and this conference, and other events prove that Islam is a religion of peace.

And we must be stronger, work more effectively and invite foreign guests in order to protect Islam from discredit, black PR, as it is called now. I know that many people come from North Caucasus republics, foreign countries. They see development, modernization. And distinguished Sheikh has repeatedly spoken on TV about the development in Chechen Republic. Modern city, modern infrastructure – it is a sign of development.

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Mufti of North Ossetia-Alania Republic of the Russian Federation Hajimurat Gatsalov presented President Ilham Aliyev with a keepsake on behalf of the leader of the republic.

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In conclusion a picture was taken.