In his address to the nation on November 25 on the occasion of the liberation of Kalbajar, President Ilham Aliyev said that monuments of all religions were paid attention to at the state level in Azerbaijan, and churches were protected as the country's cultural heritage. Ilham Aliyev also accused the West of not commenting on the demolition of mosques in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.
"Some Western circles who want to express concern should look at our destroyed mosques - Aghdam, Shusha, Zangilan, Jabrayil, Fizuli mosques, and other mosques. Those mosques were either destroyed or insulted, pigs were fed there. Why was this not a concern? Why has no one raised the issue for thirty years, except for us?", the President said
Fakt Yoxla examined whether this claim of Ilham Aliyev was true.
After the end of the 44-day war between Azerbaijan and Armenia, French President Emmanuel Macron spoke by telephone with President Ilham Aliyev and the Armenian Foreign Minister on November 19. He expressed his desire to take serious measures to protect the religious and cultural heritage of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Macron also wrote on Twitter on November 20 that France, together with the Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas under UNESCO, is ready to provide full support with its experience in preserving the cultural and religious heritage of Nagorno-Karabakh and its environs.
The screenshot was taken from French President Emmanuel Macron's Twitter page.
It should be noted that these discussions began on the eve of the evacuation of the Khudavang / Davidank monastery in Kalbajar. According to the ceasefire agreement, Armenia had to return the Kalbajar district to Azerbaijan by November 15. The deadline was extended until November 25 at the request of the Armenian side. Emmanuel Macron's telephone conversations with the heads of state and government of Azerbaijan took place after the extension of the deadline for the evacuation of the district.
As for Ilham Aliyev's claim, the demolition of mosques in the occupied territories and their use as stables were spread in the local media even before the last war. The Institute of Law and Human Rights of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences and the National Commission of the Republic of Azerbaijan for UNESCO have prepared a catalog of historical and architectural monuments in the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region in 2019.
Faig Ismayilov, an employee of the institute, told Trend that 63 out of 67 mosques in Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding districts were completely destroyed, Juma Mosque in Aghdam, Yukhari Govhar Agha, Ashaghi Govhar Agha, and Saatli mosques in Shusha were partially destroyed and rendered useless. Images of mosques being destroyed and used as stables in the regions were mostly taken by Azerbaijani soldiers after the liberation of the occupied territories and spread on social media. Well-known photographer Reza Deghati's photos also show mosques being rendered useless.
Following the release of the images on social media, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation condemned the act, declaring that historical monuments in Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding districts are part of Islamic culture.
Following Emmanuel Macron's statement on the Christian heritage, former ISESCO Director General Abdul Aziz bin Osman Al-Tuwaijiri wrote on Twitter that France, as well as other Western countries, remained silent when Armenians demolished mosques in Karabakh and turned them into stables.
Looking at previous dates, it is clear that the report prepared by the OSCE Fact-Finding Mission in 2005 included information on the number of people living in the occupied territories and the condition of housing infrastructure. It was noted that the entire town of Aghdam is in complete ruins with the exception of the mosque in the center.
During the 27 years of occupation, neither the Council of Europe nor the European Union, nor UNESCO, nor the Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas has made a statement on the demolition of mosques in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.
Fakt Yoxla concludes that Ilham Aliyev’s claim is True.