US-based The Sacramento Bee newspaper has issued an article titled “From Land of Fire to Land of Tolerance” on Azerbaijan.
The article reads: “On the sidelines of the 68th session of the UN General Assembly, the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) together with the State Committee on Religious Associations of the Republic of Azerbaijan (SCWRA) inaugurated a photo-exhibition entitled "Azerbaijan – Land of Tolerance". The exhibition, held in the UN Headquarters in New York, displays photos by world- renown, award-winning photographer, Reza Deghati depicting inter-religious and inter-cultural tolerance in Azerbaijan. "Land of Tolerance" showcases a series of photo reports on the Muslim, Orthodox, Protestant and Catholic Christian and Jewish communities of Azerbaijan, who cohabitate the same land for centuries. This unique exhibition sheds light on the incredible co-existence of diverse religious groups, all driven by the desire to share a mutual respect that is rarely seen in other countries.
During the opening ceremony of the Exhibition followed by a reception in honor of the delegates of the High-level meeting of the AoC Group of friends Ministerial meeting, the UN High Representative for UNAOC, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser said that tolerance is the national heritage of Azerbaijan and that " we at the Alliance have a great respect for this distinctive quality that you find in the people of Azerbaijan".
The chairman of the State Committee for Work with Religious Associations of Azerbaijan Mr. Elshad Iskandarov said "the cohabitation of the representatives of different religions and cultures in the conditions of mutual respect stems from national character of Azerbaijani people." He stressed that encouraging this national characteristic; the Azerbaijani government protects and promotes religious tolerance. Adding, that in recent years, by the initiatives of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mr. Ilham Aliyev, as well as with the support of the President of Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mehriban Aliyeva new mosques, churches and synagogues are being built and renovated, which are practical examples of this policy.
The artist – Reza Deghati is a Fellow of the National Geographic Society, he has been awarded the World Press Photo Award and the Infinity Award. During the exhibition, Reza announced his new project "Photolerance" - an international photo-contest in partnership with the UNAOC and SCWRA.”