HEAD OF LOS ANGELES CENTER OF TOLERANCE: "AZERBAIJAN IS A TOLERANT COUNTRY, WHERE EVERYONE CAN PRACTICE HIS RELIGION WITHOUT ANY RESTRICTIONS"
July 23 2008
Day.Az interview with head of Los Angeles Tolerance, rabbi Abraham
Cooper, visiting Azerbaijan.
– What’s your impressions of the meetings, held in Baku?
– I have good impressions of the visit. My first visit to Baku took
place in 1972. I am glad that the city has changed. I witnessed the
development, which is rejoicing. Baku residents are optimists, they are
confident about their future, Currently, Azerbaijan is an oil exporting
country. Oil revenues are used for the future of the country, its youth
and it is a positive fact. The country’s economy is being developed.
– What is the main purpose of your visit to Azerbaijan?
– The main purpose was the meeting with religious leaders. I
was planning to discuss measures, need to prevent religious
extremism. Before Azerbaijan I visited Indonesia, Oman and held
meetings with the leaderships of these countries at which I also
discussed prevention of religious extremism.
We have a tolerance museum of Los Angeles and I invited head of the
Caucasus Muslims Department Sheikh Allahshukur Pashazade to our city
and offerred him to visit the museum. We are going to arrange a visit
to religious leaders to Los Angeles. We want to explain to the US
community that Azerbaijan is a tolerant country, where everyone can
practice his religious without any restrictions.
The situation has reversed in Azerbaijan as compared to 10 years
ago, when there was no interest in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has common
borders with Iran, a country where radical Islam dominates. But it
is positive that Azerbaijan is tolerant and freedom of conscience is
not violated here, despite the neighborhood with such a country.
I have today visited Sinagogue and met with Jews, showing interest
in conditions for religious rituals and practicing their religion. I
am glad that unlike the Soviet times, Azerbaijan has freedom of
conscience. In this view, my visit to Azerbaijan was useful.
My meeting with the religious leaders was a kind of a singal to the
world community that Azerbaijan is a tolerant country.
– What have you witnessed in Azerbaijan?
– I have visited the Sangachal terminal. Therefore, I was informed
in details about the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. In Sangachal I
witnessed application of high degree of security. BTC unites several
states and this is an excellent indicator of cooperation.
– Do you have information about the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict?
– I am asked this question by every Azerbaijani, whom I meet in
Azerbaijan. I can say that 90% of US community does not know about
this conflict. I think Azerbaijanis should primaruly inform the
US community in details about their country and especially about
this conflict. The United States are mostly well informed about the
"genocide of Armenians". It would be good if Azerbaijanis held work
for informing Americans about the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.
– What would you say about the level of relations between Azerbaijani
and Jewish Diasporas in the United States?
– Frankly speaking, I do not have information regarding the number
of Azerbaijanis, residing in the United States. As for the relations
between the communities, I can say that ties are narrow. I hope the
ties will develop which will give grounds for fruitful cooperation. On
the whole, Azerbaijanis and Jews maintain historical ties. Many Jews
have been residing in Azerbaijan. Our peoples are friends to each
others and I think this friendship will expand.