Baku, Azerbaijan, March 7
By Elchin Mehdiyev - Trend:
Various missionary organizations and religious groups, created outside of Azerbaijan and being systematically directed, recently began infiltrating the country, trying to create a network on Azerbaijan's territory, head of the Public and Political Issues Department of Azerbaijani Presidential Administration, Ali Hasanov said on March 7.
Hasanov made the remarks while speaking at a conference, entitled "Freedom of religion, missionary activity and the media", organized by Azerbaijan's Press Council.
"Azerbaijani state is a democratic, legal, secular and unitary republic. Religion is separated from the state, and the legal system, systems of management, education, public relations, employment, etc. have a secular character," the department's head said.
He said that at the same time there is a right for freedom of religion, free determination of attitude towards religion, the right to express and disseminate opinion regarding the religion.
Hasanov stressed with regret that Azerbaijan's dynamic development and the stability, civil solidarity, religious and national tolerance environment do not meet the interests of certain groups in the country, as well as forces and certain foreign circles outside of it.
He said some of these organizations and movements attempt to shape public opinion in line with their objectives, strengthen radical tendencies in the country, to obtain opportunity for imposing pressure on the state's legal norms and the managing system.
"The relations between the state and religion in Azerbaijan are regulated by the constitution, relevant laws and on the basis of international conventions, which the country has joined. All processes should take place not through intervention and pressure on the country's secular government system, society's social and legal norms, but within laws," he said.
The high-ranking official said the representatives of such movements try to achieve their goals through luring citizens into their organizations by various means, through subduing citizens to themselves, disseminating radical religious ideas and through other similar ways.
Hasanov said it is obvious today that the religious groups' and movements' attempts to manage the society's life, to influence governments in the Middle East and in some regional countries, lead to serious disasters, struggles, political and economic crises.
"Open and broad discussion of these issues, opinions and suggestions put forward, once again prove that society is concerned about the emergence of destructive movements," Hasanov said. "Therefore consistent state level measures are conducted and will continue to be conducted in the country within legal norms against organizations and persons, carrying out destructive activities under influence of interested external circles, which do not comply with existing laws and social norms".
Azerbaijani state takes a categorical and strong stand against anti-national activities of various religious movements, missionary organizations, and their intentions will never yield results, Ali Hasanov stressed.
He said Azerbaijan creates the necessary conditions for all religious organizations and communities that build their activities within the existing legislation, respect national and spiritual values and religious feelings of Azerbaijani people, and their initiatives, opinions and suggestions are respected.
"Mosques, churches, synagogues and other worship places are being built with the state funds, the old ones are reconstructed and repaired and handed over to religious people. Aside from that, funds are directly allocated to religious communities in line with the decree of the country's president, and certain events held by them are being financed," Hasanov said.
The high-ranking official stressed that the atmosphere of religious tolerance, which is considered one of the progressive values in the modern societies, has become an exemplary life style of Azerbaijani society.
"Baku nowadays is recognized as a center of inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue thanks to the domestic and foreign policy pursued by President Ilham Aliyev. Numerous international events held in the country, widely discuss such topical issues as strengthening national and religious tolerance in the world, finding joint ways of fighting extremism and religious discrepancies," he added.
Hasanov said the media's main challenges include revealing true faces of those engaged in activities contrary to statehood's interests and those who don't respect the national-spiritual values, customs and traditions, national and religious feelings formed throughout centuries and create tensions in the society, differentiating citizens from each other.
"Exposing people, who conduct destructive activities by means of creating a network, are also among the media's objectives," he underscored.
"Azerbaijani media, continuing their progressive traditions, must put national interests and spiritual values above everything, speak with one voice regarding national issues, be irreconcilable with internal and external forces that want to undermine the Azerbaijani statehood's foundations and civil unity," Hasanov said.