Today, a conference on "Non-governmental organizations and religious communities: from cooperation to joint activities" has been held jointly by the Council on State Support to Non-Governmental Organizations under the Auspices of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the State Committee of the Azerbaijan Republic for Work with Religious Organizations.
Speaking at the conference, MP Azay Guliyev said that President Ilham Aliyev has always treated with a great respect with believers and leaders of religious confessions. Noting that Azerbaijan is an integral part of the Islamic civilization, Guliyev noted that religious communities have a great role in establishing a stable socio-political situation in our country. At the same time, the civil society institutions also have a great role in this direction. Azay Guliyev emphasized the importance of focusing on five main issues.
Organization of combating religious radicalism
"The first issue is the fight against religious radicalism. These two important institutions and the mutually beneficial cooperation of NGOs can contribute a great deal to our society in several ways. It is no secret that there are those who are concerned about religious discrimination in Azerbaijan, the spread of religious radicalism, the social and political stability in our country, and the atmosphere of tolerance. It is true that a purposeful and sustainable state policy under the leadership of the President Ilham Aliyev prevents all these dangerous tendencies. The head of the State Security Service, Mr. Madat Guliyev, said that 900 people from our country have joined ISID. 85 of them are currently in jail and 195 are deprived of citizenship. At the same time, the Religious Committee chaired by Mr. Mubariz Gurbanli and the Administration of the Caucasian Muslims, under the leadership of the Sheikh Allahshukur Pashazade, take all necessary steps to preserve the centuries-old multi-cultural, tolerant atmosphere in our country, and to maintain unity among confessions. The relevant authorities, as seen, successfully carry out their work. But such a global, responsibility for issues that are of concern to the whole community should not be overlooked by law enforcement agencies and relevant institutions. NGOs should be at the forefront of the fight against religious radicalism and religious extremism. The family and relatives of each of the 900 people should be kept in the center of attention and the possible impacts on their relatives, neighbors, other people in the coverage area, and relevant outcomes should be studied".
Attempts to politicize Islamic religion
The chairman of the Council said that the second important issue is the attempts to politicize Islam. Some NGOs, known for anti-Azerbaijani activities, are trying to make the people, attempting to politicize the religion of Islam in our country, and calling for the change in the constitutional order, the political prisoners. Our NGOs should act from the position of a healthy statehood and have to expose such persons and forces, and expose them to public disapproval.
Guliyev noted that the third important issue is the missionaries, who are members of the non-traditional branches of Christianity, trying to undermine our national-moral mentality and youth's patriotism. They propagate that the citizens of our country who are in the state of war are guilty of getting weapons, fighting against the enemy. Unfortunately, in the reports of the US Department of State, the struggle of our state against such missionaries is presented as a violation of freedom of conscience. This is unacceptable.
Prevention of superstition and strengthening of religious enlightenment
Azay Guliyev highlighted the importance of strengthening religious enlightenment as a fourth issue, stressing the necessity to have comprehensive knowledge for those who engage in this activity, religious leaders and clerics: "Let's admit that not all of our community leaders who promote the religion of Islam are in unconventional religious movements, they can’t demonstrate enough intelligence in the struggle. This, in turn, leads to the influence of radical religious groups, who have strong convictions, but are illiterate. Therefore, we are ready to support the creation of a public discussion center in which the Council is expanding the awareness-raising action in this area, preventing superstition, and organizing free lectures for effective anti-fraud. The State Committee for Work with Religious Associations, the Caucasian Muslims Administration and NGOs should take an active part in the organization of this center".
Fight against dangerous calls made on social networks
The Chairman of the Council said that the fifth important issue was the dissemination of information that was purposely distorted by the true essence of Islam and other religions in social networks dominated by the formation of public opinion in the modern era. A. Guliyev stressed the importance of defining effective mechanisms for such cases: "Today, there are social network accounts and websites that promote terrorism and religious radicalism. Electronic resource management and active involvement in information communication in this area should form the core of our NGOs’ activities. The Council expects innovative projects of NGOs on the mentioned areas. We will continue our work together with the State Committee of the Azerbaijan Republic for Work with Religious Organizations, Administration of Caucasian Muslims and other relevant bodies in close cooperation".