Brussels, October 4, AZERTAC
EurActiv news portal, an independent European media platform specialising in the online publication of articles dealing with European news and European-centric topics, has published an article on the 5th Baku International Humanitarian Forum held in Baku on September 29-30.
Headlined "Azerbaijan poses as bastion against Islamophobia in Europe", the article reads: “Baku is currently playing host to the "International Humanitarian Forum", a high-profile gathering attended by over 400 delegates from 71 countries, several international organisations such as UNESCO, and a dozen Nobel Prize winners.
The largest delegation was Russia's, led by a deputy prime minister and consisting, according to the official list of guests, of over 70 personalities, many of them on key positions.
In contrast, the delegations of Germany or France numbered less than 10 members. Not all delegations represented governments, some of them being comprised of leaders of religious groups or intellectuals. The largest delegation from the EU country was Italy's with 44 people listed.
Armenia, a neighbouring country with which Azerbaijan is technically at war over the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, was not represented at the conference. Nagorno-Karabakh is a territory of Azerbaijan which fell under the control of Armenia in the process of the unravelling of the Soviet Union.
The concern over the rise of Islamophobia in Europe was firstly expressed by the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, who opened the meeting with a 27-minute speech. The same concern was further expressed by several other speakers representing the Islamic world.
Aliyev said that Azerbaijan was probably unique as a country of predominant Islamic religion where tolerance to other religions is an established fact and has been for several years spearheading multiculturalism as its message to the world.
President Ilham Aliyev raised the point that Islamophobia was a matter of concern, because "some media, some NGOs and some politicians are deliberately propagating negative messages about our religion, our Islam. They are linking Islam to terror", he told the audience.
The role of media was also addressed by several speakers, who conveyed the message that journalism is failing globally, to the detriment of societies.
Many speakers praised Azerbaijan for its leadership in promoting a better understanding between Christianity and Islam.
Abdulaziz Othman, Director General of ISESCO, the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural organization, praised Alyiev's efforts to promote better understanding between the nations and slammed the UN Security Council for being ineffective in dealing with the "unprecedented threats" to world security.
"The Security Council is not fulfilling his duties. Not in Palestine, not in Nagorno-Karabakh, not in Syria, not in Afghanistan, not in Somalia", Othman said, prompting massive applause.
Olga Golodets, Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, read a written message from Russian President Vladimir Putin to the conference, and said in her own statement that "the wisdom "of Putin and Aliyev would "set the tone for peace and justice in the world".
Rabbi Abraham Cooper from the Simon Wiesenthal Center (USA), praised Azerbaijan for its commitment to multiculturalism and religious tolerance.
Many other compliments were voiced. The President of the Imams of France Haseen Chalgoumi said that in the same way that Mecca was the beacon of spiritualism for Muslims, Azebaijan had become the "beacon of tolerance".”
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