Eurasianet: Mountain Jews see government as protectors in Azerbaijan

Baku, August 25, AZERTAC

Eurasianet.org website has published an article headlined “Azerbaijan: Mountain Jews See Government as Protectors” by the U.S.-based freelance writer Lolita Brayman.

“Beyond Azerbaijan’s bustling capital city of Baku, with its modern skyline now defined by flame-shaped glass towers, is an abundance of ethnic diversity. Living in compact settlements nestled among the lush green hills and snow-capped mountains of Azerbaijan are about 50 different ethnic populations speaking over 40 languages.

Krasnaya Sloboda (Red Town) is one such hamlet. Named for its red roofs that visually pop from nearby highland lookouts, it is one of the only all-Jewish towns outside of Israel,” says Brayman in her article.

“The Mountain Jews have inhabited the region since the 13th century, but the existence of a modern-day shtetl in Azerbaijan is surprising mainly because the country predominately adheres to Shi’a Islam.”

The article says: “Elsewhere in the Muslim world, Jews were expelled from many countries shortly after the Arab-Israeli war and the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. Before independence in 1991, Azerbaijan was also part of the Soviet Union, where Jews endured discrimination and experienced government-sanctioned anti-Semitism.”

“The Mountain Jews’ comfort with President Ilham Aliyev’s administration might have something to do with the national narrative Azerbaijan’s government wants to publicize – an inclusive and cosmopolitan society that is secular and non-threatening to Western values.”

“Despite the enmity between Azeris and Armenians, Milikh Yevdayev, a leader of the Religious Community of Mountain Jews of Azerbaijan, asserted that Azerbaijan should be held up as an example of a country where “people of every culture and cloth have something fundamentally in common.”

“There are two functioning synagogues in Krasnaya Sloboda, a summer and winter one, where colorful hand-woven rungs adorn every inch of the chapel’s floor,” says Brayman.

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