Azerbaijan’s State Committee slams biased US report on religious freedom

The State Committee of Azerbaijan for Work with Religious Affairs on Monday strongly condemned the biased report of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom as well as the statement of the State Department.

“We strongly condemn the report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, as well as the statement from the US State Department. We confidently assert that our country's inclusion in a group (special watchlist) lacking any international standing, by the US State Department, based on assumptions about the violation of religious freedom in Azerbaijan, is nothing more than a tool for political manipulation,” the Committee said in a statement.

“Each year since 2013, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom has recommended the State Department to identify Azerbaijan as one of the countries to be included in the Secretary of State's "special watch list" for alleged violations of religious freedoms in the country. The Commission was spreading biased and false information against Azerbaijan in its reports,” it noted.

The State Committee of Azerbaijan for Work with Religious Associations said it has repeatedly made appropriate clarifications regarding the reports circulated by the US committee.

“Our position on fabricated and rumored issues has been brought to attention at various levels. Official letters have also been sent protesting that the issues raised in the report are untrue and prejudiced. Leading organizations of Muslim and non-Muslim communities in Azerbaijan have sent special protest statements to the US commission, related to both the latest and previous reports. Various religious figures have also made individual statements to the press. "Shortcomings" presented by the US commission do not reflect the reality in Azerbaijan. Significantly, many aspects were not investigated in the reports of the commission,” said the Committee.

“Independent and traditionally pro-Armenian sources were utilized, spreading information and sometimes purposefully misleading interpretations of the events. These facts severely undermine the objectivity of the reports and, in general, do not correspond to the goals and objectives stated in the preparation of the reports," said the Committee. The main task of Azerbaijan, including the State Committee for Work with Religious Associations, faces today is to ensure freedom of religious belief of people. Prevention of threats to the rights and freedoms of people, as well as public and state security in the religious sphere is an important issue in ensuring this freedom.

The report of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom expressed concern about the condition of the so-called "Armenian monuments" in the territories of Azerbaijan liberated from Armenian occupation, and a tolerant approach can be seen regarding the vandalism committed against Muslim monuments,” the Committee stressed.

Azerbaijan's State Committee also called on the members of the US commissions to avoid using names that have no legal character, and are politically biased and manipulative when referring to the territories of Azerbaijan.

“Specifically, Azerbaijan does not have an administrative-territorial unit called "Nagorno-Karabakh". There are Karabakh and East Zangezur economic zones,” the Committee added.



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