Azerbaijan, Baku, May 8 / Trend, I. Izzet /
Bias in the newest report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom originates in its improper methodology, chairman of the State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations Elshad Iskandarov believes.
"For example, the negative assessment of the situation in Azerbaijan and the fact that it is included in the 'second category' is mainly related to the fact that religious leaders are appointed by the Caucasus Muslims Office (CMO), which is supported by the state. First of all, I want to note that the CMO is a traditional religious center that existed before the emergence of modern Azerbaijan. It is an independent, non-governmental structure," Isgandarov told Trend on Monday.
In this regard, according to him, there are no legal problems between the state and the CMO in regards to the recognition of religious leaders.
"However, if the authors of the report see this as a problem, I want to bring to their attention that in neighboring Turkey for example, all religious leaders are government officials directly appointed by the state. In the UK, the Queen, who is considered the head of state, is also considered the head of the church and personally appoints the chief priest. Here is another fact, Orthodoxy is the official religion in neighboring Georgia. The government and the church have a relationship defined by the constitution. The official status of the Gregorian Church is enshrined in the Armenian constitution. However, Great Britain is not mentioned in the report, while Turkey was criticized by it.
However, neither Armenia nor Georgia was mentioned in it either. It is biliousness, is it not?" The head of the State Committee said.
He added that the work over the official comments is underway.
"I would like to remind the people who prepared this report that it is necessary to demonstrate at least a conscientious approach in relations to Azerbaijan with its religious tolerance, which is located in a region where religious clashes occur," he said. "These biased estimates contradict the interests and the political course of the United States as well as that of other positive forces in the world looking to establish inter-religious harmony. The leader of the group is the daughter of U.S. Senator Thom Lantos, who is a Holocaust victim. Her name is Katrina Lantos Swett. She continues her father's work. Mrs. Lantos could call Azerbaijan a country of 'zero-anti-Semitism' out of respect to the memory of her father and the millions of Jews who were Holocaust victims. We would like international human rights activists to cultivate objective positions, rather than espouse those of the lobbyists."