While the world’s attention was absorbed by President Trump’s address to Muslim leaders in Saudi Arabia offering America’s partnership to its allies and calling for rejection of radical ideologies, another major international event was concluding in a different predominantly Muslim nation, Azerbaijani Ambassador to the US Elin Suleymanov wrote in his article published by Huffington Post.
“To be more specific, the Republic of Azerbaijan just hosted the Fourth Islamic Solidarity Games in the capital city of Baku this month,” the article said. “Following the newly established pattern, the opening and closing ceremonies in Baku, an increasingly frequent destination for significant sport and cultural events, offered a colorful, spectacular and, more importantly, a meaningful, show.”
“In addition to the stunning visuals, the ceremonies focused on Islamic traditions of learning, science and inclusiveness, a welcome message in the world full of divisions,” the article said.
The 2017 Solidarity Games follow the inaugural European Games held in Azerbaijan in 2015 and, along with the annual Formula One Azerbaijan Gran Prix, indicate Baku’s emergence as a regional convening center.
“This should not be surprising,” the article said. “Standing right at the heart of the historic Silk Road and the cross-roads of civilizations, Azerbaijan established the first ever republic in the Muslim world in 1918 and granted equal voting rights to all its citizens, including women and minorities.”
“With its heritage of tolerance, diversity and inclusiveness, Azerbaijan is home to centuries-old Christian, Jewish and Zoroastrian communities and temples,” the article said. “Today, Azerbaijan’s emphasis on promoting inter-cultural dialogue and bringing different cultures together, among other things, by sharing its own experience and hosting the Baku Forum of the world’s religious and cultural leaders.”
As the sadness envelopes the globe following the treacherous attack in Manchester, a necessary and a timely response would be to empower young women internationally and to provide equality in education and employment, the article said.
Even more symbolic is that the organizing committees for both the European and the Islamic Solidarity Games were led by Azerbaijan’s First Vice President Mehriban Aliyeva, the article said.
“Through her leadership, Mrs. Aliyeva secured the success of these major events in Azerbaijan and inspired young women to pursue greater opportunities in their lives.”
“Therefore, long before the United States reiterated its call to Muslim friends to take concrete steps in order to curtail the spread of intolerance, Azerbaijan has been working diligently to bridge divides and to promote equality,” the article said. “In partnership with the United States, Europe, Israel and other Muslim nations, Azerbaijan’s initiatives provide exactly the example of capitalizing on a strategic location and celebrating diversity that is so eagerly sought globally.”