Azerbaijan & The Culture War (My Observations After Traveling The World Seeking Azerbaijani Cultural Heritage)
I’m an Azerbaijani (parents from Lənkəran) that has lived in Southern California since birth. It’s been quite hard because the Azerbaijani diaspora here is very small.
Azerbaijanis seem to think that Armenians only live in ‘Little Armenia’ (that’s literally what it’s called – it’s a district in Hollywood) or Glendale (a majority Armenian populated city in LA) – but they and their churches, schools, restaurants, grocery stores etc are scattered across all of LA.
I’m in my third year at college studying film production, and I can confirm those of Jewish and Armenian descent pretty much control the film and television industry (it’s not a mere coincidence when you hear references to Armenia or have Armenian characters in mainstream tv shows like Friends, The Simpsons, Two and a Half Men, Family Guy, Cobra Kai, etc).
They even take cheap shots at Azerbaijan in mainstream tv shows like this –
My study group has also recently been given the opportunity to complete an internship under several screenwriters – one of whom is a famous Armenian who wrote several movies including Schindler’s List, Mission Impossible, and Hannibal. My fellow students are excited (because he’s won Academy Awards for his work) and I should be to – but I am understandably apprehensive.
Even though international law is on our side, during the 2020 war – a whole bunch of celebrities including Sean Penn, Michael B Jordan, Mel Gibson, etc made tweets and video messages taking Armenia’s side, and celebrities like George Clooney, Jennifer Aniston, Leonardo DiCaprio, etc continue to donate to Armenian organizations. It’s because they have Armenian executives greenlighting their tv shows & movies – as well as Armenian agents, co-workers, friends, etc.
I also remember Cher (one of the biggest popstars of all time) wrote a sickening tweet to her millions upon millions of followers that read in capital letters “hell’s waiting for you Azerbaijani murderers, aren’t you tired of killing Armenians and taking our land”. To my shock, that racist tweet hasn’t even been pulled down by Twitter (maybe you guys can also report her tweet)
Also Kim Kardashian alone has almost half a billion social media followers (she’s the 6th most followed person on Instagram) and she (and her famous sisters) posted plenty of anti-Azerbaijan propaganda to her followers who probably knew nothing about Azerbaijan until she portrayed us as being evil (she posted on Twitter & Instagram for her hundreds of millions of followers to read that Azerbaijan was going to blow up Armenia’s nuclear power plant). She even donated one million dollars of her own money to support Armenia.
During the war, the New York Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art released an official statement demanding that Armenian cultural heritage must be protected. What about OUR cultural heritage that was destroyed – they have said NOTHING. I did some digging and discovered that the museum has historians/art curators of Armenian descent and the museum even has an Armenian exhibition (so there’s your answer!).
Nonetheless, earlier this year I traveled across Europe and the Middle East.
I wasn’t expecting anything from France (because they always take Armenia’s side because of their large diaspora – France has even named a region in the prestigious part of Paris as “Esplanade Armenia”) but Italy is supposed to be our number one ally in Europe and I looked desperately for anything related to Azerbaijan and found nothing. Instead I found ancient Armenian statues, artwork, maps, etc in the biggest tourist attractions like St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museum.
I was even on a boat ride in Venice and my tour guide pointed to several islands including “Armenia Island”. I refused to believe it as it sounded ridiculous so I googled it and discovered it’s true – that since the 17th century, Armenians have owned their own island near Venice (there are ancient Armenian churches, monasteries, museums, etc on the island).
Israel is supposed to be our number two ally in the Middle East (behind Turkey), and likewise, I looked desperately for anything related to Azerbaijan and found nothing. I traveled to Israel back in February and during my tour guide – was informed that Jerusalem is officially divided into 4 quarters which included an “Armenian Quarter”. I refused to enter it, as I noticed an “*rts*kh” flag near the entrance and felt uncomfortable – but was happy to visit the 3 other quarters (Jewish, Muslim, Christian).
When I got to the Christian Quarter, I entered the holiest Christian site in the world – The Church of the Holy Sepulchre (where millions of Christians travel to every year as they claim it’s where Jesus was crucified and also the location of his tomb). The church is divided into Catholic, Greek and Armenian sections – with the Armenian section being where Jesus’s crucifixion cross was found. So not only do they have their own Quarter, but also symbolically significant parts of the Christian Quarter. I was even told by my guide that the Armenian church of Jerusalem has legally owned the land making up the Armenian Quarter since the 4th century and that the Israeli government has to pay the Armenian church monthly rent payments to be able to lease a small pocket of land for a parking lot for Jewish visitors within the Armenian Quarter (which sounds absolutely insane to me!).
Also the Turkish government (our number one ally in the world) are spending millions upon millions of dollars restoring medieval Armenian churches and cathedrals to turn them into tourist attractions and even had them added to UNESCO as world heritage sites. Why is our number one ally spending millions of dollars of their own money to do this, after them seeing what Armenians have done to our mosques in our liberated territories?
And just last week I discovered that the company (Bungie Games) that created my favorite videogames HALO and DESTINY (probably the biggest videogame franchises in gaming history) was founded by an Armenian – and of course the platform we are all using right now – Reddit (also founded by an Armenian). Even the founder of Moderna (the second most administered COVID vaccine in the world behind Pfizer) is Armenian.
What the hell is our government doing? We are so RICH thanks to our oil and gas resources, yet I have gone through my entire life having to explain what Azerbaijan is when asked about my ethnicity.
I understand that the overwhelming majority of Azerbaijani’s live in Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia and outside of these 3 countries (two of which are now the number 1 and number 2 most sanctioned countries, and cut off from the rest of the world) – the Azerbaijani diaspora is small, but our government MUST spend more money to do something to compete with the massive Armenian diaspora (and their influence) in the western world.
This is outrageous because there are more Azerbaijani’s living in Azerbaijan alone than the number of Armenians in the entire world. Where is our Little Azerbaijan or Azerbaijan Quarter or Azerbaijan Island?
We have (and continue) to spend billions of dollars to have the rights to host events, but it usually backfires in our faces because the western media start harping on about human rights, no free media, dictatorship, corruption, journalists in jail, money laundering, etc. That one time it was the famous Armenian soccer player refusing to travel to Azerbaijan for Europa League final because of “safety concerns” and just recently Eurovision released an official press announcement stating that Azerbaijan cheated in the most recent song contest. Soon after this announcement, Eurovision Reddit followers were demanding Azerbaijan be kicked out of Eurovision – accusing us of cheating since we joined Eurovision by bribing judges from other countries to vote for us, and some Reddit followers also posted articles from western media accusing the Azerbaijani government of paying non-Azerbaijani university students from other countries to vote for Azerbaijan.
On a final note, the only Azerbaijani cultural heritage outside Azerbaijan that our government has achieved is paying third world countries to let us erect intimidating looking statues of Heydar Aliyev – making all of us look bad when the western media finds out about it (resulting in having the statues eventually removed like what happened in Mexico because of complaints it was done so through bribery and that Heydar was a “dictator”).
What a freaking mess! What do you guys think needs to be done to get POSITIVE media attention in the western world about our beautiful country, and how can we create Azerbaijani cultural sites (please, no more statues of the Aliyevs!) within America, Europe, Israel, etc