President Macron announced France’s desire to “take decisive measures to protect the religious and cultural heritage of Nagorno-Karabakh” after the liberation of these territories by Azerbaijan. But the fact that for almost 30 years dozens of mosques, Muslim mausoleums and cemeteries were being desecrated and barbarously destroyed there, and the leaders of France and other European states preferred to look another way.
The book by Azerbaijani photojournalist Babek Guliyev “Karabakh: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow (in Photos)” contains numerous photographs from 2006, which depict mosques and Muslim cemeteries of cities and villages of Karabakh, destroyed since the beginning of the Armenian occupation in 1991-1993. This photographic evidence is attached to this publication.
The last page of the book says the following: ”In the occupied territories the Armenian aggressors destroyed cultural elements constituting the cultural heritage of Azerbaijan with particular brutality. 12 museums, 6 picture galleries, 9 historical palaces were looted and burnt down, 40 thousands of artworks and historical artefacts were stolen, 44 mausoleums and 18 mosques were desecrated. 4 600 000 books and priceless manuscripts in 927 libraries were destroyed”. Now, after the liberation of the occupied territories, turns out that many more religious and cultural-historical objects were destroyed (there are 67 mosques alone). The leaders of European countries did not voiced any concerns over this. But now, after the return of Karabakh to Azerbaijan, on November 19, President Emmanuel Macron announced France’s desire “to take decisive measures to protect the religious and cultural heritage of Nagorno-Karabakh.”
On_November 24, the head of the Caucasian Muslims Office, leaders of the Jewish communities of Azerbaijan, the country’s Orthodox archbishop, as well as the leader of the Albano-Udi Christian community appealed to the international community regarding the destruction of numerous religious, cultural and historical sites of Karabakh during the years of the Armenian occupation.
“… Mosques, temples and cemeteries, historical monuments, museums, libraries in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan have been destroyed and looted; Caucasian Albanian Christian temples and Russian Orthodox churches have been Gregorianized; mosques have been turned into barns and subjected to unprecedented insults such as using them to keep animals forbidden in Islam. Out of 67 mosques in Karabakh 63 have been razed to ground and the remaining three have been severely damaged” – the joint statement by Heads of religious confessions in Azerbaijan says.
They stressed that “Armenia conducts fabricated religious propaganda against Azerbaijan, claims that Azerbaijan is taking steps to destroy religious and cultural sites in our liberated territories and attempts to portray its own provocations as those of our country”.
«The President of Azerbaijan has repeatedly stated in his addresses and interviews that all religious and cultural sites and places of worship in the liberated territories will be restored, every person’s faith will be respected and peaceful coexistence will be ensured as is the case in other parts of Azerbaijan”, – the religious leaders said/
On November 23, President Ilham Aliyev visited the destroyed mosque of Aghdam, liberated on the 20th. There he stated that several years ago representatives of the Minsk Group, which acted as a mediator in the Karabakh conflict, visited this city during the Armenian occupation. “They conducted missions here twice and informed me that they had visited the Agdam mosque. Why didn’t you even mention this? Why hasn’t this caused concern among Western leaders? It turns out that mosques can be desecrated, turned into cowsheds or pigsties, ultimately destroyed. If so, they should not poke their noses in our affairs, what they should do is to go and deal with problems in their countries”, – the leader of Azerbaijan said.
Other photos by Babek Guliev