TEHRAN, BAKU (Combined Sources)—Iran’s Armed Forces chief of staff on Wednesday called on Azeri President Ilham Aliyev to strengthen his government by respecting Islamic rules and people’s demands, reported the Fars News Agency.
“I hope Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev pays attention to issues that strengthen the pillars of his government, otherwise he will face a dark future since people’s awakening cannot be suppressed,” Iran’s Armed Forces Chief of Staff Major General Hassan Firouzabadi said, FNA reported.
Firuzabadi’s remarks were a reaction to Azeri police using force against demonstrations protesting the Azeri ban of the Muslim headscarf—the hijab. The protests turned violent when demonstrators were beaten and a number of them detained, reported FNS.
“People’s aspirations cannot be suppressed,” Firouzabadi was quoted by FNS. “Some neighboring and Muslim states, with which we enjoy friendly relations continue to ignore friendship criteria and allow the Zionist regime (of Israel) to meddle in their country’s affairs. They also give orders to bar Islamic rules.”
Some civil society activists in Azerbaijan stated that the ban on the hijab in schools violates the constitutional right to freedom of religion.
Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry on Thursday protested Firouzabadi’s remarks by summoning Iran’s ambassador to Azerbaijan to the ministry, reported the Interfax News Agency.
Azeri Deputy Foreign Minister Nadyr Huseinov, in a note delivered to Tehran’s envoy to Baku, Mohammad Baqer Bahrami, said Azerbaijan “strongly protests the irresponsible and slanderous remarks by the Iranian official representative and said that the Iranian media’s posting of materials targeted against the people and state of Azerbaijan, national interests and security and the distortion of the domestic policy of this country contradicts friendship, mutual understanding and commitments between the two states.”
“It is a great pity that we have to express our attitude with pain in our hearts on such issues. Azerbaijan always builds and develops its ties with Iran on the basis of principles of neighborliness, friendship and mutually profitable cooperation,” Azerbaijan’s head of the presidential administration, Novruz Mammadov, reported News.az.
“However, despite the statements of the Iranian leaders at meetings with the president of Azerbaijan, some circles in this state, conducting policy that runs counter to the interests of both Iran and Azerbaijan, openly demonstrate their cunning position. Occasionally, some religious figures distort history, or a military man, instead of fulfilling his professional duties, interferes in politics,” said Mammadov.
The Iranian embassy in Baku said that the chief of general staff had not made the remarks and that the reports were a “press misunderstanding.”