The Daily Caller newspaper has posted an article in which American pastor and educator Juan Carlos Mendez shares his impressions on his visit to Azerbaijan.
He describes Azerbaijan as the international model for interfaith and multicultural harmony. Azerbaijan is a secular democracy, where Muslims, Jews and Christians thrive in diversity and live as indistinguishably equal.
The article says: Azerbaijan is in fact one of the earliest nations to accept Christianity as a state religion (313 AD). I met with leaders representing the variety of Christians living peacefully in Azerbaijan, as well as Jewish and Muslim leaders throughout the country. I met with the esteemed Sheikh ul-Islam, the elected Grand Mufti of the entire Caucasus region and most impressively � the world's only Sunni-Shia Sheikh.
There was another important moment; when I visited the beautiful Armenian Apostolic Cathedral in Baku, renovated a few years ago by the Azerbaijani government, and today, under Presidential protection. The Cathedral houses over 5,000 ancient Armenian books, including a 300 year-old Bible, says Carlos Mendez.
I also visited the Baku International Center for Multiculturalism and met the renowned scholar and Presidential Advisor on Multiculturalism and Inter-Religious Affairs, Professor Kamal Abdulla, to discuss Azerbaijan's many centuries of success, serving as the safe home to people of diverse faiths and ethnicity. We both agreed that nothing in the world could be more important than building peaceful bridges between people of every faith. Because those values are held so strong in Azerbaijan, they have survived invasions, ethnic cleansings and even 100 years of Soviet control, he adds.