Azerbaijan, Baku, July 22 / Trend I.Isabalayeva /
The Azerbaijani Government respects the religious choices of citizens, but forthrightly struggles against the promotion of national extremism and intolerance, Chairman of Azerbaijan's State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations
Hidayat Orujov said at a roundtable.
"It is unacceptable to use religion for political purposes in order to strengthen the activities of radical forces, damage the long tradition of tolerance of our people, and use freedom of religion for personal purposes", Orujov said.
He said that one should simply see how many religious communities have passed state registration for security activities to determine the level of tolerance in Azerbaijan.
Today about 524 Islamic religious communities and 34 communities of other religions, including 23 Christian, seven Jewish, three Baha'i, and Hare Krishna, officially operate in the country.
There are 11 churches in Azerbaijan (three Orthodox and one Catholic in Baku, one Orthodox in Ganja and Khachmaz, an Albanian Udi church in Gabala, four Georgian Orthodox churches in Gakh), and six synagogues (two in Baku, Oguz, and Guba). There are also 26 houses of worship, in which representatives of Christian denominations hold religious ceremonies.
Orujov said that the main objective of the Azerbaijani government is to ensure freedom of conscience and development of the traditions of tolerance that were historically formed and became characteristic of the Azerbaijani people, as well as the regulation of state-religious relations.