THE STATE COMMITTEE OF AZERBAIJAN REPUBLIC FOR THE WORK WITH RELIGIOUS ASSOCIATIONS

  • The history of the Committee
  • The duties of the Committee
  • The rights of the Committee
  • The international relations of the Committee
  • The address of the Committee

    The history of the Committee

    The main objective of the committee's activity is the creation of favorable conditions for the freedom of worship as granted by Article 48 of the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

    The State Committee of Azerbaijan Republic for the Work with Religious Associations is a central executive power body, which is responsible for the implementation of the state policy in the sphere of religion, for the accurate observance of the regulations of the legislation on religious organizations, the relationship between religious organizations and the activities of corresponding bodies of the executive power.

    It is evident that serious positive changes are observed in the religious life of the society in the years since freedom was attained. Not only verbal, but practical opportunities have been created in the realization of the freedom of faith and in the real sense of the word, the state advocates for the freedom of conscience. The establishment of an organization fulfilling the state policy in the sphere of the religious activity is an important fact not only for the state but also for the religious organizations. Azerbaijan is a nation state. But this does not mean the rejection of religion. This fact determines the substance of the state's political organization. Religion increases the human responsibilities for society and strengthens the feeling of patriotism. The state needs faithful, convinced citizens, for morality is appreciated as national wealth by the state which gives consideration to it. This factor is based on the foundation of the state policy on religion.

    On the other hand, the society of Azerbaijan is open to the world. The embassies of foreign states, the representatives of international organizations, different centers of culture, the organizations of humanitarian help and charity, as well as the businessmen of different faiths all conduct their activity in liberal Azerbaijan. Different religious convictions unknown to the majority of the population and that are so indistinctive to Azerbaijan, sects derived from non-traditional religious tendencies influence society even today, which differently influences consciousness and the hearts of the people. The regulation of this contradicting process within the frames of the corresponding legislation, the creation of the corresponding situation to realize the provisions under the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan on freedom of conscience, guarantee to control the fulfillment of acts of the legislation concerning the freedom of faith and the problem of the registration of religious organizations all made it urgent for the establishment of the State Committee on the Work with Religious Organizations.

    The major responsibilities of the Committee are: to create of the corresponding conditions to implement the freedom of faith, the state registration of the religious organisations in accordance with the legislation of the Republic of Azerbaijan, to provide corresponding amendments and supplements to regulations (statues) of these organisations, on the request of the religious organisations to provide necessary aid for achievement of the agreement with the state organs and to expect their help in the solution of the necessary problems, to help in strengthening of mutual understanding, tolerance and respect between the religious organisations of different religious convictions, to prevent confrontation and discriminations and other negative cases happened on the religious ground.

    State Committee on Religious Organizations of the Republic of Azerbaijan issues a bulletin twice a month for the purpose to inform the community.

    Duties of the Committee

    The main duties of the Committee are the follows:

    1. to create corresponding conditions to implement freedom of faith;
    2. to supply control over observing of the acts of the legislation on the freedom of the religious faith;
    3. to conduct state registration of the religious organisations in accordance with the legislation of the Azerbaijan Republic, to provide amendments and supplements in to the regulations (statues) of these organisations in corresponding order;
    4. on the request of the religious organisations to provide necessary aid in the achievement of agreements with the state organs and to provide necessary state assistance to religious organisations in the solution of matters required;
    5. to provide assistance in strengthening mutual understanding, tolerance and respect between the religious organisations of different religious convictions, to prevent confrontation and discriminations and other negative cases happened on the religious ground;
    6. to create general bank of information on the basis of the information received from religious centres, religious offices and other religious organisations;
    7. to provide the assistance of the religious organisations in the international religious movement, forums, business relations with the international religious centres and foreign religious organizations;
    8. to conduction examination on religious studies with the participation of the representatives of the religious organisations and correspondent individuals;
    9. to relate the works of the organs of the executive power in religious matters and control their activity. To assist in organisation of the activity of the commissions on the religious matters created under executive powers of regions and cities;
    10. to study education programs of the religious schools, to present expert's reference to determine the quality of the education;
    11. to participate in organisation of pilgrimages and in achievement of intergovernmental agreements on the matters concerned.

    Rights of the Committee

    To fulfil its functions the Committee has the following rights:

    1. to apply to the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Cabinet of Ministries of the Republic of Azerbaijan concerning the relations between the government and the religion, with propositions to perfect the legislation on the religion;
    2. to control production, import and spread of the literature, objects and other sources of information of religious character and to give consent in accordance with the application of the corresponding state organs;
    3.in determined order to attract experts and advisors, to conclude contracts with them for working out and implementation of the matters in their authority;
    4.to establish periodic press organ in accordance with orders of the legislation, to publish special bulletins and other issues;
    5.to establish corresponding structures to fulfil within the frames of its authority duties of the Committee;
    6. to get information about the activity of religious institutions in the republic, to attract the professionals to conduct test on the religious education at these institutions, on revealing cases in their activity contradicting the existing legislation to raise the problem before religious centre or corresponding state organs;
    7. to constantly inform the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Cabinet of the Ministers about religious split, faith discrimination, political-religious diversions dangerous for national security and other illegal acts and events;
    8. to raise a question about illegal acts of the religious organisations and individuals concerning the freedom of faith before the centres and the administration they represent;
    9. in the case of violation of the provisions of the legislation of the Republic of Azerbaijan to go to law to break, in determined order, the activity of the religious organizations;
    10. to provide the observation of the acts of legislation of the Republic of Azerbaijan, concerning the freedom of the faith, to interfere, in the form presupposed by the law, the activity of the religious organizations as required;
    11. to execute state registration of the religious organizations, for the purpose of assistance in regulation of activities of illegal religious entities, places for praying and pilgrimage created by individuals and having no historical-traditional source, to raise a questions before the related state organs;
    12. to participate in preparation of school programs and manuals based on the study of the religion, religious-intellectual and religious-philosophical subjects and the holy religious books;
    13. in accordance with the law, to raise the question before the related organizations about reimbursement to religious communities of the religious objects once confiscated and used for other purposes;
    14. to send information or document about violation of principles of religious organizations activity, religious propaganda held by the foreigners and non-citizens, prevention the implementation of devotions and about the violation of the rights to right-defense organs for taking measurements and to keep under personal control;
    15. to give methodic and training instructions, advice and explanations on matters under its authority;
    16. to register references and other data, to provide their consideration as determined by the law;
    17. to realize other rights determined by the law.

    International relations of the Committee

    Since the day of its creation, State Committee of Azerbaijan Republic for the Work with Religious Associations implemented important works in direction of development of religion and relations among religions. Within this time chairman of Committee Mr Rafig Aliyev received several foreign guests and paid essential visits to separate foreign countries. Chairman of Committee paid a visit to United States of America on May 26-June 10, 2002, in frame of "Program for foreign guests" on the invitation of US State Department. R.Aliyev held meetings with head and members of US Congress Religious Freedom Commission, at State Department, Georgetown, Mareland, Columbia, Dyuk (Duke) Universities, Caucasus and Central Asia Researches Institute within State Department, centers of different religious communities, American Muslims Council, Washington Islam Center and gave detailed information on the state of religion in Azerbaijan. In the meetings wide discussions were held on role of religion in fight against terrorism and extremism, terror acts linked to the religion were disapproved.

    A year later, on January 6-10, 2003 chairman of Committee visited Islamic Republic of Iran. This visit that was realized on the invitation of head of Culture and Islam Traditions Organization of Iran Mr Mahmud Mohammed Eragi, was held in working circumstance.

    Frame of visit, chairman of State Committee R.Aliyev met with 200 Azeri students sent to get education in city of Gum.

    Nearly after two months, on Match 3-7 chairman of Committee paid a visit to Great Britain on the invitation of chairman of Azerbaijan-England Society Lord Fraser and met with members of House of Lords. Meeting held on the theme "Joint life of religions in secular state: positive experience of Azerbaijan" was organized by England-Azerbaijan Society with participation of Azeri embassy to London. To the meeting with members of House of Lords were invited as well ambassadors of CIS countries, leading reps of human right organizations, leadership of the Forum of Three Religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam)", religious figures and press reps.

    In his report, chairman of Committee talked of the same attitude towards all the religious confessions in Azerbaijan, creation of equal conditions for religious communities, widely analyzed religious tolerance and other issues.

    The same year on April 16-18 Roman Patriarch Bartholomew I paid official visit to Azerbaijan on the invitation of State Committee. HQ of Patriarch is located in Istanbul. He is Turkish citizen with of Greek origin.

    Besides, a number of international conferences were held on direct initiative and with participation of Committee. It includes international conference titled "Attitude of Islam to the terror: real concept and explained comment" held in Baku on December 20-21, 2001. In the work of conference were present nearly 40 leading scientists and experts, studying Islam, from USA, Norway, Germany, Russia and some Muslim states, ambassadors of foreign states to our country, reps of religious confessions.

    A year later, on June 17-18, 2002, in Baku seminar "Assurance of religion and freedom of religion in the fight against extremism: difficulties and current experience in Azerbaijan" was held by OSCE Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Bureau (DIHRB), OSCE Baku Office and State Committee. In the work of seminar took part former head of OSCE Baku Office Peter Burkhart, chairman of State Committee Rafig Aliyev, expert of Georgetown University of USA Yehya Hindi, professor of Trier University of Germany Herhard Robbers, scientists and researchers of ANAS, Baku State University, Khazar University, reps of most of religious communities represented in Azerbaijan.

    On October 10-11 of the same year DIHRB held international scientific conference "Role of religion and credo in democratic society: study of ways of fight against terrorism and extremism" in Baku due to support of Azeri Government.

    Conference was opened by director of DIHRB Mr Gerard Schtudman. President of Azerbaijan Republic Mr Heydar Aliyev gave a wide speech in the opening of conference. In his speech, President wisely analyzed the new political situation created in the world after terrible terror acts happened in USA on September 11, 2001, disclosed specific features of the time, talked of works done in field of freedom of religion and religious tolerance in Azerbaijan, 20% of lands of which is under occupation, is made face problems of a million of refugees, underwent terrorism and extremism for more than 10 years as a result of known activity of aggressive Armenian separatists, as well emphasized future outlooks, gave fair evaluation to the role of religion in modern life.

    Address of the Committee

    The Republic of Azerbaijan, Baki, AZ 1001, Ahmad Javad ,12.
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