A senior official from Azerbaijan, a majority-Muslim country located in the southern part of the Caucasus bordering Iran, has expressed solidarity in the wake of the October 27 massacre in which 11 Jews worshipping at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh were killed and six others were wounded.
“What happened in Pittsburgh is truly an assault on all people who believe in peace, because our values and our hopes are undeniably intertwined,” Nasimi Aghayev, Consul General of Azerbaijan to the Western United States, wrote in an op-ed published in the Jewish Journal on November 7.
“Hatred of Jews hurts everyone, just as the hatred of any group of people is a sickness that affects our entire world,” Aghayev, who is based in Los Angeles, observed. “A revolving phenomenon of bigotry, racism and xenophobia that comes in many forms and leaves the same lasting mark wherever it exists.”
“I am grateful that educating every child about the evil of anti-Semitism is part of the mandatory curriculum in Azerbaijan’s public schools,” Aghayev said. But, as he spoke of the need of advancing constructive religious dialogue and interfaith efforts, he also admitted that “Clearly, our work is far from complete. We have so much yet to achieve together.”
The government of Azerbaijan is on record stressing the absence of anti-Semitism in the country and its good relations with Israel. During a visit to the Central Asian state in 2016, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the growing ties between Israel and the Shiite-majority country are a praiseworthy example of “Muslims and Jews working together to secure a better future for both of us.” Netanyahu was in Azerbaijan to commemorate 25 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Aghayev, writing in the Jewish Journal, echoed the sentiment and noted that “I hope that with our collective perseverance and an ever-increasing measure of time, the movements of hope, peace, respect and love for each and every fellow human being will outshine and overwhelm the forces of hatred and evil.”
He concluded that “we must act boldly and exhaustively in our policy, our schools, our daily practice and in how we treat one another. We must unambiguously stand against all forces of prejudice in the world, so that we can one day know a world without hate. A world that truly embodies ‘never again.’”
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