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AZERBAIJANI MOSQUES TO CAMPAIGN FOR ALIYEV

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On 14 February, the chairman of the Muslim Council of the Caucasus, Sheikh ul-Islam Allahshukur Pashazadeh, instructed Azerbaijan’s Muslim clergy to use their Friday khutbahs, or sermons, to agitate for President Ilham Aliyev’s reelection.

“Naturally, we can’t force anyone to vote for someone,” Pashazadeh said. “It’s our duty to deliver the truth to the people, and that’s what I want the imams and akhunds to do with their Friday khutbahs. I also want to say that we will supervising,” Pashazadeh said.

Haji Shahin Hasanli, another official at the Muslim Council of the Caucasus, called on the population of Azerbaijan “to make the right choice in the presidential elections”.

“We hope that the people will actively participate in the elections, especially against the background of conflicts and disagreements in the world as a whole and in this region in particular,” Hasanli said.

Now more than ever, the people must make the right choice and vote for the head of state, Ilham Aliyev, in order to protect stability and sustainable development in the country.

Last year it was announced that Muslim clergy in Azerbaijan would become eligible for a state salary in 2018.

On 5 February, Ilham Aliyev signed an order moving this year’s presidential elections to 11 April. The elections had originally been scheduled to take place on 17 October.

The president was granted the power to call early elections by a controversial constitutional referendum in 2016. The amendments also extended the presidential term from five years to seven.

President Aliyev has been nominated for reelection by the ruling New Azerbaijan Party.

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Religion

AZERI RELIGIOUS LEADERS SILENT ON TRUMP DECISION

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The scandalous decision of the US President to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the transfer of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv caused a wave of outrage in the Islamic world and not only. This decision of President Trump was condemned by many European leaders, and by the UN Secretary General. Islamic figures around the world protested, calling for consolidated action. Against this background, the silence of the religious leaders of Azerbaijan is surprising.

Attempts of Turan to receive a comment in the Office of Muslims of the Caucasus and some religious figures, were futile.

For today, official Baku has confined itself to a meaningless comment by the press service of the Foreign Ministry.

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Religion

AZERI, RUSSIAN and ARMENIAN RELIGIOUS LEADERS MET IN MOSCOW

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“A meeting of religious leaders of Azerbaijan, Russia and Armenia is a positive result. These meetings will have a positive impact on the relations between the peoples,” Chairman of the Caucasus Muslims Office Sheikhulislam Allahshukur Pashazade has told AZERTAC as he commented on a meeting of Azerbaijani, Russian and Armenian religious leaders in Moscow.

Pashazade noted that the trilateral meeting once more shows that there is no alternative to a peaceful solution to the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. “This conflict must be solved within the international law.”

“During the meeting we heard some accusations from the Armenian Catholicos. I raised the issue of release of the Azerbaijanis held captive by the Armenians,” said Pashazade.

He noted that the Armenian Catholicos also recalled the April events, adding “I told him that those battles occurred in Azerbaijani lands.” “I also expressed my concern over the fact that our religious monuments, mosques in the Armenian territories and in our occupied lands are in very bad conditions. I read prayers in most of those mosques. But now those mosques are destroyed.”

Pashazade noted that the Armenian Catholicos alleged that the Armenian church in Baku is also in very poor conditions. “I invited Russian Patriarch Kirill to Baku to visit the Armenian church.”

Pashazade said that the religious leaders should help normalize relations between the two peoples. “Armenia must return Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent districts. And then heads of state, politicians can consider a status for the Nagorno-Karabakh, of course, within Azerbaijan`s territorial integrity,” he added.

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Azerbaijan

What Will the ‘Year of Islamic Solidarity’ Bring Azerbaijan?

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2016 was the “Year of Multiculturalism” in Azerbaijan. 2015 was the “Year of Agriculture”. Before that, we had the “Year of Sport”.

What will the “Year of Islamic Solidarity” bring Azerbaijan?

Political analyst Hikmet Hajizade says he has no objections to 2017 being the Year of Islamic Solidarity, however:

“We have never seen the tangible manifestation of the spirit of these ‘Years’ in reality. Neither multiculturalism, nor agricultural development…now we have Islamic Solidarity. What does Islamic Solidarity mean? Let them explain to us what that means, and how it will be carried out in reality; what will it mean for the public? It might be a good step in spirit, but the realization of such a year is problematic”.

Hikmet Hajizade

Hikmet Hajizade wonders if the implementation of such a year might be aimed at aiding Azerbaijan in its attempts to receive financial aid from other Muslim countries.

“Of course, the situation in this current crisis is rather bad. . . maybe they think they can get out of this situation with such slogans”.

REAL deputy head Azer Qasimli sees a return to a Soviet mentality in these slogans:

“It’s not as if the State has invented or discovered anything here. In fact, it’s just gone back in the past. The propaganda presented to the people in the 60s and 70s of the last century during cotton-picking season is simply being presented in a different format in the 21st century.

Back in 2003 when Ilham Aliyev put forward his candidacy for the presidency, his knowledge of English was put on display and people thought he was going to make real reforms. The majority of the people believed in him.

Unfortunately, in his 13-year reign, there is nothing different from the Soviet period. His world-view has remained in the 60s-80s. It’s obvious that knowing foreign languages is not evidence of a person’s different and new world views”.

Azer Qasimli

Qasimli expects little good to come from the Year of Islamic Solidarity.

“Maybe there would be some benefit if this were also to be a time of serious reforms, if the country were to move along a path of modernization. However, Azerbaijan has never seen modernization. Even if one speaks of the past decade as one of development, I don’t see evidence of this. Because all of these measures have simply been aimed at dealing with remnants of the Soviet past – and not to move forward into the globalized world. Moreover, these so-called “Years of..” have cost us a lot of money. For example: how many conferences were organized in honor of ‘the Year of Multiculturalism?’ And what about the Eurovision Song Competition? Or the European Games?

All of them entailed enormous expenses. And right now, to emerge from this crisis, we need all the money we can get. Actually, the government understands that this ‘Year of Islamic Solidarity’ is useless and meaningless, because they know it will have an effect neither on the population nor on the economy. But, in order to retain their power, they had to do something like this…”

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