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Baku, January 11, AZERTAC
The Huffington Post has published an article headlined "Baku, a unique geopolitical gathering of dialogue and peace" on its website.
In her article, Annette Blum says: “As a panelist and participant in the 2015 Baku World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue, I joined a large international group of colleagues and leaders to disseminate how the qualities and characteristics of dialogue factor into the standards and health of multiculturalism and social harmony.”
“First, I found it very interesting that Azerbaijan was the first secular democracy in the Muslim world established in 1918. Additionally, Azerbaijan chose to offer women the right to vote in 1919 despite being surrounded by conservative and in some cases, radical ideologies. This is a year before the United States delivered those essential rights which demonstrates a basic recognition of the vitalness of women in society and leadership.”
“The third reason of equal importance to the others is Azerbaijan's long history of friendship with Israel. The two countries have a shared vision for the world, and have strong values of diversity. I was privileged to visit the Jewish community and a synagogue with my colleague, Rabbi Cooper from the Simon Wiesenthal Center. The Jewish community for the most part lives peacefully with the Muslim majority in Baku. Interfaith marriages are accepted and the two communities share the common interest of working together to create a better nation. In addition to sharing these key values, Israel and Azerbaijan also share resources. Azerbaijan provides a large percentage of Israel's oil and Israel invests and shares technology and services with Azerbaijan.”
Blum says: “Azerbaijan is geopolitically unique with its strengths and those that have protected the country from the triggers and factions of extremism ravaging the surrounding region. In this context, it is also relevant to address that the only ongoing conflict in Azerbaijan in the region of Karabakh near the Armenian border was initiated by the Soviets in 1992 and is over territory only and not over religious differences in contrast to other countries in the region. Considering all of these factors, The Republic of Azerbaijan was an appropriate and very interesting location for this event which highlighted its commitment and success to interfaith and multicultural harmony, both domestically and internationally. It was inspiring to re-connect with colleagues and like minded leaders who all traveled to Baku to see how multiculturalism has been implemented in a secular and primarily Muslim country and how the Azerbaijani values of tolerance have been sustained in today's society. We recognized that by sharing what is positive in Azerbaijan, we can help share a new perspective on what many other nations hope to achieve.”
“Azerbaijan has proven this commitment throughout all levels and sectors of society. A Jewish Woman sits on the Azerbaijani Supreme Court with her Muslim and Christian colleagues and Jewish and Christian members of Parliament operate in full autonomy despite a Muslim majority. Azerbaijan is a nation where people of all faiths and cultures live in freedom and hold equal chance of success,” Blum says.