A tall, diplomatic-looking man walked into a Jerusalem café wearing a suit and tie and with a fairly large entourage, including a photographer, security guards, assistants and advisers. Many of the people in the dining establishment assumed he was an American congressman, but were surprised to hear he was a senior minister in the Azerbaijani government.
— Fuad Muradov (@Fmuradov) June 21, 2022
This government official is the Azerbaijani government’s chairman of the State Committee on Work with Diaspora. In a way, Fuad Muradov is Azerbaijan’s diaspora affairs minister, and as such, he visits Israel often and has close ties with Israeli leaders.
Muradov was recently the guest of Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai, coming to learn more about the well-established Israel and Jewish-Diaspora connections, which consist of many initiatives and organizational Jewish life. Here he not only met with the heads of the ministry, but also with senior officials in the Jewish Agency, Birthright Israel and other organizations dealing with connecting Jews of the Diaspora with Israel.
Muradov felt a need to promote his country while speaking to The Jerusalem Post, in a way similar to how many leaders feel the need to boast about their country’s achievements. “Women were allowed to vote in 1919. This was the first Muslim-majority country ever to enfranchise women,” Muradov boasted. “This is even before the United States allowed women to vote nationally.”
He also stated that Azerbaijan’s small Jewish community doesn’t suffer from any antisemitism. “I told Minister Shai that if you come to Azerbaijan, you’ll see that there will be zero antisemitism. Azerbaijan’s Jews never, never had a problem, since tolerance is part of our culture.”
The Azerbaijan diaspora comprises about 50 million individuals who are of Azerbaijani descent. Iran hosts the largest diasporic community, with about 13 million Azerbaijanis, according to The World Factbook. According to different reports, there are between 1.5 to 3 million in Russia, and according to some sources, there may be as many as 800,000 in Turkey. Reports in the US have mentioned about 400,000 Azerbaijani Americans; Georgia has about 360,000 and there are 150,000 in Kazakhstan.
In Azerbaijan itself, there are more than 10 million citizens, of which 91.6% see themselves as Azerbaijani, according to the last census in 2009. Among the approximately 40 million Azerbaijanis around the world, the government only acknowledges about 10 million of them as constituting the Azerbaijani diaspora.