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Azerbaijan as an example of democratic Muslim country

11 October 2010 [15:40] - TODAY.AZ
American Adviser to the Azerbaijani Government Jason Katz cited Azerbaijan as an example of a democratic Muslim country in his article on the public debate over the construction of a religious center in New York.

Katz's article titled "The Cordoba Center: A Symptom of a Deadly Disease" was published on the "The Media Line" website.

The author criticizes the American organizations that protested against the construction of a Muslim religious center of Cordoba on the New York area of Ground Zero - at the site of the World Trade Center destroyed in the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001.

A religious building worth $ 100 million and a height of 13 floors may be constructed only two blocks from the tragedy site, in which the radical group Al-Qaeda was accused. A number of American social and religious organizations are against the construction of the mosque.

It seems that many have exchanged the rule of law and common decency, the essence of American religious pluralism, for irrational emotion, Katz said.

Katz said Americans need to look at nations like Indonesia, the most populous Muslim nation that is an ally to the US in politics and the struggle against terrorism. America must look at the majority-Muslim nations of Eurasia, particularly ones such as Azerbaijan, an emerging democracy with a long tradition of religious pluralism and equality of rights.

America, in general, seems to look at Muslim men as people sitting in a cave with Kalashnikovs slung over their shoulders. Further, America seems to look at Muslim women as oppressed, veiled women with no rights, he said.

"It just ain't so. There exist majority-Muslim nations that respect the rights of women, freedom, modernity…again, look at the likes of Azerbaijan, who awarded full rights to all people, ahead of even the US, and other majority-Muslim nations of Eurasia and Asia," he said.

Katz believes the Cordoba Center controversy is a symptom of a disease, not rooted in Islam, but our own fear and distrust and lack of understanding. The Cordoba Center controversy is a symptom of the disease, Islamophobia. It is not worthy or becoming of the United States or of her citizens.  

Jason Katz is the principal of the Tool Shed Group, a consultancy that advises foreign governments and NGOs, including the government of the Republic of Azerbaijan. He is also the former head of Public Affairs for the American Jewish Committee in Los Angeles.


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