The Azerbaijan State News Agency

POLITICS

Ulviyya Zulfikar: Armenia is the birthplace of systematic Islamophobia

Ulviyya Zulfikar: Armenia is the birthplace of systematic Islamophobia

Baku, March 9, AZERTAC

“Today, we stand at a crossroads in our collective journey towards fostering a world where respect, tolerance, and understanding transcend the boundaries of race, religion, and ethnicity. Regrettably, the shadows of hatred and prejudice, particularly against Muslims, loom large over our aspirations. This is not a challenge that has emerged overnight but rather a deeply entrenched issue that has been exacerbated in recent decades,” said Ulviyya Zulfikar, the spokesperson of the Western Azerbaijan Community, as she addressed a breakout session themed “Deliberate Acts of Destruction and Desecration of Islamic Cultural and Religious Heritage in Non-Muslim Countries” held as part of the international conference on Islamophobia.

“Among the earliest victims of such targeted Islamophobia are the Azerbaijanis from the territory of today’s Armenia, whom I represent. Historical records and events bear witness whereby Armenia emerged as the pioneer in institutionalizing religious and ethnic intolerance against Moslems as a matter of state policy. Essentially, Armenia is the birthplace of systematic Islamophobia. It pains me to recount how Armenia not only expelled and massacred Azerbaijanis but also methodically erased their rich cultural heritage. Over the past 200 years, Azerbaijanis living on the territory of present-day Armenia have been subjected to multiple waves of forced deportations, notably during the years 1905-1908, 1918-1920, 1948-1953, and 1987-1991. The culmination of these atrocities was the expulsion of nearly 300,000 Azerbaijanis, marking the transformation of Armenia into a monoethnic state with the last deportation from the village of Nuvadi in Western-Zangezur in 1991,” Ulviyya Zulfikar emphasized.

“The deliberate eradication of Azerbaijani cultural heritage in present-day Armenia is a tragic testament to this intolerance. The destruction of over 310 mosques and more than 500 cemeteries, along with the repurposing of significant cultural landmarks, serves as a painful reminder of the grave injustices committed against our community. The Blue Mosque in Iravan, the only surviving Mosque in Armenia, is being misrepresented by Armenia, to further obscure the truth about our history. The forced displacement of Azerbaijanis from Armenia shook the fabric of the community and caused immense damage to the intangible cultural heritage of Azerbaijanis, including our traditional music, dance, cuisine, and the art of ashiq. It epitomizes the extent of cultural genocide we have endured. The destruction of monuments, such as that to Ashiq Alasgar, proves the systematic effort by the Government of Armenia to erase our identity and legacy.

Our appeals to international bodies like UNESCO for recognition and restoration of our obliterated cultural heritage have been met with inaction, further exacerbating our plight.

The formation of a new state on the land where Azerbaijanis once constituted the absolute majority, through the expulsion of our people and the bringing in others, marks an unprecedented injustice in modern history.

This unprecedented injustice created a sense of impunity among the ruling circles of Armenia and encouraged them to raise territorial claims, use force, conduct military occupation against the internationally-recognized territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan, further large-scale ethnic cleansing, and other crimes against humanity.

The complicity of countries such as France, with its own anti-Muslim policies, and the misuse of international mechanisms by Armenia to mock the very essence of human rights and racial discrimination. The fact that Armenia can levy claims against Azerbaijan on the grounds of racial discrimination at the International Court of Justice, despite its own egregious record, is a mockery of the human rights values. It underscores the erosion of our international justice system. This should serve as a wake-up call for all progressive nations that champion peace and justice.

Therefore, the safe and dignified return of Azerbaijanis to Armenia is not merely a matter of rectifying a wrong against our community; it is imperative for confronting and eradicating of Islamophobia at its toots.

In 2023, our community, the Western Azerbaijan Community, reached out to Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan with a peaceful and dignified plea for our right to return to our ancestral lands. His lack of response and the misinterpretation of our intentions as a territorial claim only highlight the challenges we face in seeking justice under international law.

Therefore, I call upon the international community to stand with us in ensuring the safe and dignified return of Azerbaijanis to Armenia. It is time for Armenia to take concrete steps to enable our return, to restore and protect the Azerbaijani religious and cultural heritage. We, Western Azerbaijanis, reaffirm our commitment to peace, tolerance, and justice for all,” she added.

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