Azerbaijan, Baku, 11 March / Trend S.Aghayeva /
Thanks to a policy pursued by the national leader of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev and President Ilham Aliyev, Jews have always lived and today live freely in Azerbaijan, chairman of the Community of European Jews in Baku Gennady Zelmanovich told Trend.
"Jews have good relations with other religious denominations and communities, as well as with the Caucasus Muslims Office and the State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations," he said.
The heads of the Jewish community are always invited to all international conferences and events both in the country and abroad.
According to Zelmanovich, the richness of Azerbaijan is in the fact that representatives of different nationalities and religions live side by side in peace and friendship.
"We are of different nationalities, practicing different religions and customs, but we have always been free in Azerbaijan," chairman of the community said, noting that some media has published false information on this issue.
According to him the Jewish school established as a result of the joint project by the Or Avner Foundation and the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, is functioning in Azerbaijan.
Currently, 250 children are enrolled at this school, the opening of which was attended by President Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva. The school also operates a preparatory department.
"There is a synagogue in Azerbaijan, construction of which was assisted by the chairman of Caucasus Muslims Office Sheikulislam Haji Allahshukur Pashazade, Bishop Alexander of Baku and Azerbaijan, the Catholic Church in Azerbaijan, as well as various sponsors - ethnic Azerbaijanis," Zelmanovich said.
According to him, tolerance that exists in the country should not be associated with the authorities' interest in maintaining good relations with everyone. Tolerance is the main line in the internal policy of the country. Good attitude to the Jews living in Azerbaijan has evolved over the centuries.
"The president addresses us twice a year on the occasion of Rosh Hashanah and on a day of mourning for Holocaust victims. No other country has such a custom," Zelmanovich said.
He added that it is incorrect to divide Azerbaijani citizens in accordance with nationality.
"We are of different nationalities and religions, but have always been free in this country," he said.
According to the head of the community, Jewish children and the youth have the same rights as Azerbaijanis. The Jewish and Azerbaijani youth study in the same schools and universities, work together and serve in the army.
"Nationality in our country appears only on holidays. During Azerbaijani holidays we are given pakhlava, while on Jewish holidays we treat everyone with matzo. Other than that, there are no differences," Zelmanovich said.
According to him, there is only one big problem - the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the return of IDPs to their native lands.
"We will solve this problem along with our president," the chairman of the community said.
The Jewish community of Azerbaijan includes nearly 30,000 people, including 5000 members of the community of European Jews and 25,000 Mountain Jews.
Many Jews, according to Zelmanovich, occupy high government positions.
Referring to interfaith relations, the community leader said there are fraternal relations between all religions and communities in Azerbaijan.
"We're always together, always discussing our problems together, if there are any. I have never experienced any problems in public structures and we are always offered a helping hand if any problems occur," Zelmanovich said.
Azerbaijan is an example of tolerance. This country is referred to as such, at all international events, he said.
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