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Fazil Abbasov

AZERBAIJAN - Economy

Scribe & Seek

Chairman, Association of Journalists from Islamic Countries

Bio

Fazil Abbasov is a journalist, writer, and orientalist with a PhD in Arabic Philology. He is the Founder of Azerbaijan’s first English-language newspaper AzerNews, and is currently the Chairman of the Association of Journalists from Islamic Countries.

What prompted you to found the Association of Journalists from Islamic Countries and what are its goals? While Western countries have numerous journalists’ associations, these are lacking in Muslim countries. […]

What prompted you to found the Association of Journalists from Islamic Countries and what are its goals?

While Western countries have numerous journalists’ associations, these are lacking in Muslim countries. This prompted myself and prominent philologist and journalist Sona Valiyeva to found the association. The organization has several goals, the most important being to unite journalists in Islamic countries and to develop journalism by encouraging dialogue. Azerbaijan is central to the Muslim community and is a model of moderate Islam. It lies at the border of Europe and Asia, meaning it is in a privileged location and makes it an ideal country to promote dialogue between East and West. I consider it problematic that, nowadays, events in countries such as Iraq or Iran are only reported on by Western European or US sources, which can sacrifice objectivity and even accuracy. Our aim is to address this lack of communication by promoting objective news reporting in these countries. Journalists have the power to shape public opinion, which is why developing journalism in our countries is important.

What progress have you made in setting up the Association?

We are still in the early stages, and recently registered with the Ministry of Justice. We are also looking to attract influential journalists from other Islamic countries in order to set the tone for the dialogue we intend to promote.

What is Azerbaijan’s role in the community of Turkic countries?

Azerbaijan was always a role model for the Turkic states of the former Soviet Union. For example, it was the first Turkic country to switch to the Latin alphabet from the Arabic alphabet in 1926, a gesture intended to facilitate integration into the global community. At that time, all Turkic countries, as well as Turkey itself, were using the Arabic alphabet. And after 1937, all countries in the region were obliged to switch to the Cyrillic alphabet. Meanwhile, Azerbaijan was the first democratic republic in the region, and one of the first countries in the world to elect women to parliament, in 1918. Azerbaijan was the only Turkic country during the Soviet Union period where Russian was not the official language.

How significant is Azerbaijan’s approach to Islam?

Azerbaijan has time and again proven its moderate approach to Islam. For example, while the depiction of the human face was banned in most Islamic countries, it has been allowed in Azerbaijan since the 16th century. Furthermore, the focus in Azerbaijan has always been on culture, as exemplified in 1908 with the composition of our first national opera. We have a long history of cultural tolerance, which can serve as inspiration to other Muslim countries. Furthermore, Azerbaijan’s foreign relations are highly diversified, as it reaches out to Muslim countries in North Africa, the CIS, and the Middle East.

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