Novella’s Sympathetic Portrayal Of Armenians Causes Uproar In Azerba


Published: February 1, 2013

BAKU, Azerbaijan -A novella by an Azeri author that portrays ethnic
Armenians sympathetically has provoked an uproar in Azerbaijan,
with Azeri lawmakers denouncing the work and protesters burning the
author’s portrait outside his house.

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Twitter List: Reporters and Editors The novella, “Stone Dreams,” was
published in mid-December by Ekrem Eylisli, a former lawmaker, but
condemnation grew strident only over the last week, after mainstream
news outlets began reporting on and discussing it.

On Thursday, a crowd of several dozen people gathered around Mr.

Eylisli’s house and burned his portrait. At a session of Azerbaijan’s
Parliament on Friday, lawmakers attacked the novel, with one
recommending that Mr. Eylisli be stripped of his citizenship and
urging him to move to Armenia.

Another lawmaker, Melahet Ibrahimqizi, said, “He insulted not only
Azerbaijanis, but the whole Turkish nation,” a reference to passages
in the book that discuss historical Turkish violence toward Armenians.

The work tells the story of two Azeri men who try to protect their
Armenian neighbors from ethnic violence, an incendiary topic in
Azerbaijan, a country still gripped by the war it fought two decades
ago with Armenia. Since the war ended, Azerbaijan has been trying
to regain control of Nagorno-Karabakh, a predominantly ethnically
Armenian enclave within its borders, and secure the return of Azeris
who were forced from their homes.

Mr. Eylisli, 75, said he knew there might be an uproar over his book,
which he finished in 2007. He said he decided to publish it last
year in a relatively obscure Russian-language journal, Friendship of
Peoples, because Russian-language speakers tend to be better educated
and more progressive.

“Armenians are not enemies for me,” he said in an interview. “How
can they be? I am a writer living in the 21st century. A solution to
Nagorno-Karabakh is being delayed, and hostility is growing between
the two nations. I want to contribute to a peaceful solution.”

He added that he was shocked by the ferocity of the reaction. “I did
not say anything insulting, I did not betray my country,” he said. “I
describe how an Azerbaijani helps an Armenian. What is bad about this?”

On Friday, protesters placed a copy of the journal containing “Stone
Dreams” in a coffin and held a mock funeral at a monument in honor
of Azeris who were killed in the war.

Via social media, young people discussed passages in the book that they
found particularly distasteful, like a description of the young hero’s
impulse to convert to Christianity and “ask God to forgive Muslims for
what they did to the Armenians.” Armenia is predominantly Christian,
while most Azeris are Muslim.

Qan Turali, 28, a popular novelist, said he saw the book’s artistic
merit but believed that Mr. Eylisli had chosen the wrong time to
publish a book portraying Armenians in a positive light.

“He is a great writer, the novel is good, but the time is not right,”
he said. “Azeri people still feel pain and are aggressive. Instead of
increasing tolerance toward Armenians, the writer caused more hatred.”

He said Mr. Eylisli’s work would have been received better if he had
added depictions of Azeris being killed by Armenians. Another writer,
Oktay Hajimusali, 32, was blunter, saying that it is “nonsense to
promote peace with Armenians.”

Ellen Barry contributed reporting from Moscow.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

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Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS