An event on Azerbaijan's model of multiculturalism has been held at The Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills (TEBH) in Los Angeles, US. Co-organized by the American Jewish Committee's Los Angeles Regional Office (AJC-LA), the event was attended by the members of TEBH, one of Southern California's premier Reform Jewish congregations and synagogues, serving West and Greater Los Angeles.
In his opening remarks, Rabbi Sarah Bassin, the Associate Rabbi of TEBH, hailed the importance of this discussion "that is designed to push us out of our comfort zones".
AJC-LA's Vice President Julie Bram highlighted AJC's long-standing friendship with Azerbaijan and informed the audience about the global activities of the organization.
Following the screening of a short video on Azerbaijan, Consul General of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles Nasimi Aghayev addressed the audience in a conversation moderated by Rabbi Sarah Bassin. In his remarks, Consul General Aghayev informed the attendees about important milestones of Azerbaijan's history, as well as its steady development and modernization as an independent nation since the collapse of the Soviet Union. He also mentioned that in 1918 the Azerbaijani people established the first secular parliamentary republic in the Muslim world that granted voting rights to women in 1919, making Azerbaijan the first among Muslim countries taking such a pioneering step. Speaking of Azerbaijan's ages-old traditions of interfaith tolerance, Consul General Aghayev stated that thanks to tireless efforts by Azerbaijan's leadership, today all religious communities in Azerbaijan enjoy strong interfaith harmony and acceptance, and Muslims, Christians, Jews and other communities live together in peace, dignity and mutual respect in the country. Stressing the fact that this harmony exists not only among religions, but also within religions as well, Aghayev noted the harmonious relationship between Shias and Sunnis of Azerbaijan's Muslim population, which is encouraged and strengthened by the government on a daily basis.
Highlighting the 2,500-year old history of Azerbaijan's vibrant Jewish community, the Consul General also talked about the comprehensive relationship and strong friendship between Azerbaijan and Israel.
Speaking about the illegal occupation and ethnic cleansing of Azerbaijan's lands by neighboring Armenia, Consul General Aghayev expressed his appreciation for Israel's constant support for Azerbaijan's territorial integrity. In this regard, Aghayev also expressed gratitude for Israeli President Rivlin's reference to the Khojaly Massacre – committed by Armenia in 1992 against Azerbaijani civilians resulting in the death of over 600 including 300 children, women and elderly – in his 2015 U.N. speech on the occasion of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The event concluded with a lively Q&A session, during which Nasimi Aghayev responded to various questions from the audience.