Religious Freedom a Priority for Muslim Imam


Allahverdiyev, president of the IRLA affiliate in Azerbaijan

Silver Spring, MD, USA… [IRLA news]. “Either you are for religious liberty and human rights, or you are not,” said Imam Ilgar Allahverdiyev, president of the International Religious Liberty Association’s (IRLA) affiliate organization in Azerbaijan, during his visit to the IRLA headquarters office on June 24, 2003.

“When you have religious liberty, you have human rights. Democracy in any society depends on religious liberty,” he added.

Speaking to officers of the IRLA and the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Imam Allahverdiyev commended the IRLA and the Adventist Church for its many efforts in promoting religious freedom around the world. He stressed the importance of finding a middle ground in a society as diverse as ours. “The middle ground is human rights and religious liberty. Those who promote religious freedom and human rights are actually promoting human dignity.”


L to R: Allahverdiyv, president of the IRLA affiliate in Azerbaijan, with Denton Lotz, president fo the IRLA

Echoing the same theme, Denton Lotz, president of the IRLA and general secretary for the Baptist World Alliance, said “When countries use a state religion to suppress religious freedom, there can be no peace, but will have instead a clash of civilizations, which is really a clash of religions.”

Imam Allahverdiyev has been involved in a wide range of various causes including a program called Motherland Without Orphans, initiated in 2002 to help change the situation for homeless children; Struggle Against Alcoholism and Drugs, an organization working to combat citizen’s struggle with substance abuse; Dar-Ul-Hikmet, a science and research debate center focusing on issues such as “Islam, the Religion of Tolerance,” “Dialogue of Civilizations,” “Islam and Hygiene,” and many others.

The IRLA affiliate in Azerbaijan was formed on September 20, 2002, with a variety of religious groups represented in its officer group. The IRLA was first organized in the U.S. by members of the Adventist Church and chartered in 1893, but is non-sectarian and promote principles of religious freedom for all people everywhere.

Bordering the Caspian Sea, between Iran and Russia, Azerbaijan’s population of over 7 million consists of only about three percent claiming affiliation with a Christian church. Azerbaijan’s constitution upholds the right of all people to choose and practice their religion.

For more information about the IRLA, visit www.irla.org. [Viola Hughes]