Religious Tolerance In Azerbaijan - A Myth Or A Reality?
Azerbaijan, located in the Southern Caucasus on the divide between Europe and Asia, shares quintessential borders with Russia in the north, Iran in the south, Georgia, Turkey and Armenia. Consisting of 9 million inhabitants, it is the home for various religious and ethnic minorities. The article demonstrates the extent Azerbaijani nation embrace diversity of religious and ethnic minorities. Multiculturalism and tolerance is one of the hot topics that reflects the foreign and internal policies of the country. Article discusses legislation and educational issues and it refers various literature reviews. At the same ethnographic research was conducted within 3 months of the various religious centers and religious institutions, along with the surveys among the population and religious leaders, where observation was carried out as one of qualitative research methods. Surveys were conducted among the most widespread religions in the country. The vast array of population in Azerbaijan are Muslims or tolerating Muslims as we would call them. Two imminent reasons prevail, one of which is that through centuries, historically, the state has been home to numerous traditions, cultures and religions. Thus, Azerbaijani people have a deep understanding of the concept of toleration. The second rationale behind this is about the Arab’s conquest of the region in the 7th century. At the same time, as a newly independent state (26 years) it is significant for a country to gain recognition and respect on the international stage and to be part of political alliances and economic partnerships. Azerbaijan became a member of several international organizations in order to broaden and deepen the cooperation in the global and regional arena. Thus, Azerbaijan is following the strategies to be accepted as a tolerant country.