An international video conference on "Religious tolerance is an important factor in the development of the state and society" was held
An international video conference on "Religious tolerance is an important factor in the development of the state and society" was organized by the State Committee on Religious Associations of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the State Committee for Religious Affairs under the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
The video conference was joined by about 40 scientists, MPs, clerics and heads of higher educational institutions from both countries.
Chairman of the Caucasus Muslims Office Sheikhulislam Allahshukur Pashazadeh stressed that the greatest achievement of independent Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan today is the protection and restoration of the national and religious values of the fraternal peoples. He noted that in the fight against terrorism, radicalism and Islamophobia in the world, Uzbekistan supports Azerbaijan's call for Islamic unity and takes equal steps towards peace and democracy. Our goal is to develop the historically formed relations between Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan, which have entered a new stage with the call of Islamic Solidarity. Thus we have always been fraternal peoples with the same ethnic roots, similar history and mentality, and today we are very pleased that two friendly leaders - President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and President Ilham Aliyev - contribute to the development of Uzbek-Azerbaijani relations and strengthening ties. We are proud to say that President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and the Uzbek people have always declared that they are friends of Azerbaijan, and that the Uzbek state demonstrates its principled position and support in the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which is of importance to us. Unfortunately, in recent days, the ceasefire was violated in Tovuz, our border region, as a result of provocations by the Armenian side, our officers and soldiers became martyrs, civilians were killed and our religious and cultural monuments were damaged. We have made official appeals to international organizations, religious leaders and the world community in connection with what happened. We hope that, as always, the brotherly state of Uzbekistan will support the settlement of military conflicts on the basis of the principles of international peace, and will continue its unwavering position and support for the recognition of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. It is our unity, our history-tested achievement, our history of brotherhood.
Chairman of the State Committee for Religious Affairs under the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan Abdugafar Akhmedov said that the video conference would be another important step in strengthening cooperation between Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan in the field of moral education. He noted that the declaration of independence and the commitment of the Uzbek government to the ideals of democracy, the choice of a secular path for the development of society have gradually created equal conditions for all religions and denominations in the country.
In his speech, Chairman of the State Committee on Religious Associations Mubariz Gurbanli touched upon the historically friendly relations between Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan, and spoke about relations within bilateral and international organizations. He noted that the foundation of relations between our countries was laid by the great leader Heydar Aliyev and is being successfully continued by the head of our state today.
It was noted that after gaining independence, our countries have signed numerous interstate agreements and documents regulating our relations. The chairman of the committee stressed that modern Azerbaijan is a secular state and the country's Constitution fully guarantees freedom of religion and conscience. Azerbaijan is a multinational and multi-religious country. This feature has had a significant impact on people's religious beliefs and the historical formation of tolerance. At the same time, there is a high level of state care for religion in our country, and this care covers all denominations. The state takes care of the repair, restoration and capital construction of houses of worship, the construction of new ones. Noting that 2016 was declared the "Year of Multiculturalism" and 2017 the "Year of Islamic Solidarity" in our country, the chairman of the Committee said that numerous events were held in this regard in our country and abroad. At the same time, Mubariz Gurbanli described the holding of the IV Islamic Solidarity Games in Azerbaijan as an event that unites the Islamic world and promotes humanitarian, political and economic ties. He said that there is a great need for solidarity in Islam.
He also noted that the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, headed by First Vice President Mehriban Aliyeva, pays special attention not only to Azerbaijan, but also to the preservation of national and spiritual values and the reconstruction of religious shrines around the world. This makes an important contribution to further strengthening the atmosphere of tolerance in our country.
Speaking about inter-religious dialogue, the chairman said that we should not be content with expressing only the positive aspects of the process. We must also condemn attempts to link conflicts to religious factors. One such example is the years-long Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. As a result of the Armenian military aggression, 20 percent of our lands - Nagorno-Karabakh and 7 adjacent regions - have been occupied. Genocide was committed against the Azerbaijani people in these areas, Armenians destroyed all our historical monuments, graves, including mosques. Four UN Security Council resolutions on the withdrawal of Armenian forces from our lands in connection with the conflict have not yet been implemented.
Mubariz Gurbanli noted that on July 12, the Armenian military units violated the ceasefire using artillery devices in the direction of the Tovuz region of the Azerbaijani-Armenian border. He noted that both Azerbaijani servicemen and civilians were killed in the attack. This event is a continuation of Armenia's policy of aggression. Thanks to the military strength, determination and courage of the Azerbaijani army, the insidious and dirty provocations of Armenia were resolutely prevented.
Mufti Usmonkhon Alimov, Chairman of the Muslim Board of Uzbekistan noted that some forces are currently trying to form a hostile attitude towards Islam. Undoubtedly, such an approach to Islam is unfounded and stems from a misunderstanding of Islamic values. Because the more we understand Islam, the more we see that it bears humanism, tolerance, kindness, compassion, and promotes high moral values. Therefore, it is necessary to strengthen relations between the religious policy agencies of the two countries, hold joint events, as well as discuss other issues of mutual interest.
Eldar Ibrahimov, MP, Chairman of the Azerbaijani-Uzbek Parliamentary Friendship Group, noted that the creation of such a perfect atmosphere of tolerance in our country testifies to the fact that religious tolerance is a characteristic feature of Islam and the Azerbaijani people and national-moral wealth.
Representatives of various religious denominations have always shown solidarity with the people of Azerbaijan and fought together for the freedom and prosperity of the Republic of Azerbaijan. These characteristic qualities of the tolerance of the Azerbaijani people were especially evident during the Armenian aggression. Along with Azerbaijanis, our citizens of different religious denominations and ethnic groups also sacrificed their lives for the freedom and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.
During the first part of the video conference, Gulchehra Tulemetova, Head of the Research Department of the Center for Islamic Civilization in Uzbekistan under the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan, and Minhojiddin Khojimatov, Head of the Center for Spirituality and Enlightenment of the Republic of Uzbekistan made speeches.
The international video conference continued with panel sessions on "Ensuring religious tolerance and harmony in society: the experience of Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan," "Preservation and development of religious values in the modern state," "Islamic enlightenment in modern times." MPs Javanshir Pashazade, Jeyhun Mammadov, Anar Isgandarov, First Deputy Chairman of the Caucasus Muslims Office Mufti Salman Musayev, Rector of the Azerbaijan Theological Institute Agil Shirinov, Rector of the Tashkent Islamic Institute Uygun Gafurov, First Deputy Chairman of the Muslim Board of Uzbekistan Khomijon Ishmatbekov, Director of the Imam Bukhari International Research Center Shovosil Ziyodov and others made extensive reports on the topics, emphasizing the importance of international video conferencing and the exchange of views and experiences.
During the international video conference, a Memorandum of Cooperation was signed between the State Committee on Religious Associations of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Committee for Religious Affairs under the Cabinet of Ministers of Uzbekistan, as well as a Memorandum of Understanding between the Azerbaijan Theological Institute and the International Islamic Academy of Uzbekistan.