Jews in Azerbaijan fear cultural genocide in Nagorno-Karabakh


Staff member
Jews in Azerbaijan fear cultural genocide in Nagorno-Karabakh
"In Azerbaijan I found tolerance; it shows what is possible for relations between the Abrahamic religions."
DECEMBER 27, 2020

When peace was announced in Nagorno-Karabakh last month, celebrations in the streets of Baku – Azerbaijan’s capital – were to be expected. Following 30 years of illegal occupation, some 700,000 displaced Azerbaijanis were going to be able to return home. Perhaps not so expected was the sight of Israeli flags flying proudly alongside those of Azerbaijan throughout these celebrations. As an Azerbaijani, a Jew and a religious leader, this came as no surprise to me. Azerbaijan is not – as portrayed in some parts of the media – an intolerant Muslim nation locked in a religious conflict with Christian Armenia. Instead, Azerbaijan is a place of religious and cultural tolerance and inclusivity in a region fraught with ethnic and religious tensions.

Within our 25,000-person-strong Jewish population, the thriving Ashkenazim are joined by Georgian Jews and our own, unique and ancient mountain region Jewish community. Together, we live among both Sunni and Shia Muslims as well as various branches of Christianity, including a small Catholic community. There are even 30,000 Armenians who – for generations – are happy to call Azerbaijan home.