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International conference on strengthening religious tolerance kicks off in Baku

An international conference on strengthening religious tolerance has started in Baku organized by the OSCE Project Coordinator's Office in Baku, the Azerbaijani Government, the Caucasian Muslims Office and the Azerbaijani National Commission for UNESCO. 

The conference that brings together representatives from 11 countries discusses Azerbaijan’s model of religious tolerance and existing challenges in the OSCE area and beyond.

Representatives of various government agencies, the Parliament of Azerbaijan (Milli Majlis), international organizations, religious communities and civil society organizations, as well as international experts and academics, will discuss the role of inter-religious dialogue in a democratic society and ways to prevent radicalization trends in a globalized world.

The State Counsellor on Multiculturalism, Interethnic and Religious Affairs Kamal Abdullayev read out Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev`s address to conference participants.

OSCE Project Coordinator in Baku Ambassador Alexis Chahtahtinsky said: “The OSCE promotes the value of dialogue in building a democratic society. Our organization takes a firm stand against hate crimes and all kind of hate speech across the OSCE area.”

He hailed religious tolerance in Azerbaijan, saying: “From an OSCE perspective, the most important thing is that this positive inheritance of religious tolerance and peaceful co-existence among religious communities is strengthened and preserved for future generations, as Azerbaijan’s most precious achievement.”

Head of the Caucasian Muslims Office Sheikh-ul-Islam Allahshukur Pashazade evaluated tolerance and multiculturalism as powerful factors that strengthen States, make people organized and ensure their integrity. “I can assure you that tolerance, multicultural environment and respect to religious and moral heritage are among the main factors that have stimulated progress and development in every spectrum of life in Azerbaijan.”

The conference will discuss current challenges to religious tolerance in the wider OSCE area and ways to address them.