The Parliament of the United Kingdom has hosted a conference titled "European Multiculturalism Prospects: Azerbaijani Model of Interfaith Dialogue and Religious Tolerance" initiated by Vice President of Heydar Aliyev Foundation Leyla Aliyeva.
Co-organized by the London-based Anglo-Azerbaijani Society and Odlar Yurdu organization, the conference was supported by the Azerbaijan State Committee on Religious Associations and the country`s embassy to the UK.
Vice President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Leyla Aliyeva attended the event aimed at introducing Azerbaijan`s model of religion-government relations, religious tolerance, interfaith cooperation and mutual respect to the British political and scientific elite.
The conference brought together members of the UK House of Lords, members of both ruling Conservative and opposition Labour parties, government officials, representatives of the diplomatic corps in London, and activists of the Anglican, Jewish and Muslim communities in the UK.
The conference was opened by chairman of the Anglo-Azerbaijani Society Lord Fraser who hailed Leyla Aliyeva`s initiative to promote the Azerbaijani model of tolerance in Europe. He praised the Heydar Aliyev Foundation`s activities towards developing global dialogue among cultures and religions.
Chairman of UK-based Odlar Yurdu organization Ilham Naghiyev said Azerbaijan`s achievements in ensuring religious tolerance could set an example to European countries.
Azeri ambassador Fakhraddin Gurbanov stressed the importance of the conference in exchanging experience between Azerbaijan and Europe.
Chairman of the State Committee on Religious Associations Elshad Iskandarov said the conference was “a first high-profile event on religious tolerance in Azerbaijan held abroad”. He stressed the importance of the fact that “Azerbaijan`s experience in interfaith dialogue and religious tolerance is discussed in the context of European multiculturalism”.
Islamic Conference Youth Forum's General Coordinator, Vice President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Leyla Aliyeva made a report on the problem of religious tolerance and interfaith dialogue. Mrs. Aliyeva said Azerbaijan`s experience was “a successful model for finding solution to this universal problem”. She said Azerbaijan had ancient traditions of religious tolerance, adding “representatives of different religions have been coexisting in our country in peace and harmony for centuries”.
The first plenary session of the conference heard reports on history of Islam, Christianity and Judaism in Azerbaijan by PhD in history Farida Mammadova, PhD Moshe Becker and founder of the Center for Religious Studies Elchin Asgarov.
The second plenary session was addressed by representatives of the Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities in Azerbaijan. They stressed the importance of Azerbaijan`s experience of interfaith dialogue, saying it set an example to Europe. The speakers proposed founding a center for interfaith dialogue and tolerance in Azerbaijan.
Later the same day the participants of the conference viewed “Azerbaijan – home to cultural traditions and tolerance” exhibition organized by the State Committee on Religious Associations at Baku Culture Center in London.