: Muslim President: Shana Tova

22.09.2009, 12:26
Muslim President: Shana Tova

By Rob Eshman (http://www.jewishjournal.com/about/author/2835/)
http://www.jewishjournal.com/bloggish/item/muslim_president_shana_tova_20090921/ (http://www.jewishjournal.com/bloggish/item/muslim_president_shana_tova_20090921//)
President Ilham Aliyev
This doesnt happen often.
And by often, I mean, never.
The president of a Shiite Muslim nation reached out to his countrys and the worlds Jews to wish them a happy new year, or shana tova in Hebrew.
President Ilham Aliyev sent a message of greetings to the Jewish community of Azerbaijan on the Rosh Hashanah holiday (Jewish New Year), then pinged it via e-mail to the rest of the world. The message reads:
We consider ethnic and religious diversity a historical achievement of the modern Azerbaijani society, in which traditional friendship, brotherhood and tolerance among different nations have always reigned.
Guaranteeing human rights and freedoms for everybody irrespective of their language, religion and ethnicity is one of the key priorities of our policy aimed at ensuring stability, peace and civil solidarity.
The independent State of Azerbaijan have always attached a particular emphasis to this issue and necessary democratic and legal basis had been created in the country to ensure that all national minorities, including the Jewish community, safeguard their national and cultural originality and traditions and develop their language and culture.
It is with great pleasure that I would like to note that our Jewish citizens are actively involved in the socio-political life of our country and the process of building democratic statehood.
Dear friends,
The Rosh Hashanah is a holiday of renewal, repentance and moral purity. May this dear day bring good news, joy and happiness to you and your families.
Its possible that other Muslim rulers went through the motions of wishing their Jews a happy holiday. But what makes Aliyevs pronouncement so meaningful is he seems to mean it. Azerbeijan is a small nation with a history of tolerance and an active engegemnt with israel and world Jewry. As I wrote in a column several years ago: (http://www.jewishjournal.com/opinion/article/but_what_about_azerbaijan_20070223/)It is a majority Shiite country70 percent Shite, the rest mostly Sunni. It is a democratic secular state whose religious and ethnic minorities are embraced. Azerbaijan gave women the right to vote in 1919one year before the United States did.
My teachers were Jews. My doctors were Jews, [Azerbaijan Consul General] Suleymanov said. They have lived with us through good and bad times. (Azerbaijans most famous Jew? Chess grand master Garry Kasparov.)
When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad held his Holocaust denial conference earlier this winter, the Azerbaijani television station aired a debate on it featuring Arthur Lenk, Israels Ambassador to Azerbaijan (yes, the same man who was Israels deputy consul general in Los Angeles in the mid-90s).
He got one full hour, Suleymanov said. There was a feeling he won the debate.
Its not just about tolerance. One-sixth of Israels oil supply comes from Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is an economically thriving, moderate and tolerant majority-Islamic nation with great oil wealthlike the real Kazakhstan, in a way.
Of course, Azerbaijan is small8 million people to Irans 75 million. But Azeris, the ethnic group that makes up the majority of Azerbaijanis, account for some 20 million Iranians. Mullahs who have tried to gain traction for fundamentalist teachings in Baku have met with little success, and Azeris in Iran have had a liberalizing influence.
This is no shallow PR effort. The Jewish Journals contributor Gabriel Lerner traveled to Azerbaijan in 2008 and reported on a country (http://www.jewishjournal.com/world/article/azeri_jews_centuries_of_coexistence_in_azerbaijan_ 20080111/) where coexistence is a centuries-old value.
Not unlike the Jews of Sefarad (Spain) during the First Caliphate, Lerner writes, Azerbaijans Jewry is interwoven into the fabric of this state, which emerged in August 1991 from the Soviet Union. And despite their minuscule numbersmaybe 12,000 in a population of 8 milliontheir presence is known and acknowledged
So, President Aliyev: Shana Tova right back at you. A year of peace for Muslims and Jews in Azerbaijan, and everywhere else too.

22.09.2009, 14:37
Muslim Shiya President? LOOOOOL ))))))))))))))))