Locally made automobiles were given to male clerics, while female religious figures were excluded
Fourteen mullahs have received Khazar SDs, locally made cars, as a gift from the state in Azerbaijan.
Seven more will receive the same gift in November. According to the deputy chairman of the State Committee for Work with Religious Organisations, Sayyad Aran, the gifts were given to some of the country’s most authoritative and respected religious figures.
However, the executive director of the Foundation for the Promotion of Cultural Values, Mehman Ismailov, says the vehicles are meant to improve the material and technical base of religious communities, that is, it is not a gift to them personally, but to help them in their work.
The keys to the automobiles were only given to men, despite the fact that there are female religious figures in the country. However, Aran says only a few of them have official status.
This has already happened before in the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. Four local mullahs received NAZ Lifan 330s.
This case has caused a mixed reaction among the public.
For example, economist Natiq Jafarli says that such “generosity” from the state violates not only ethical norms, but also the principle of the separation of church and state. Moreover, Jafarli says, this poses a serious danger to Azerbaijan, since religious people, seeing the closeness of religious figures to the state, may lose confidence in them, move away from them and start looking for spiritual leaders in other countries.
Theologian and journalist Rasul Mirhashimli disagrees with him. In his opinion, such a gift is not fraught with any problems: “These religious figures will continue to work in the same way as they did before receiving these gifts.”