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Azerbaijan: The wrong kind of model

I was surprised and dismayed by your Oct. 15 front-page article “Azerbaijan relishes role as the anti-Iran,” which, with the exception of the ninth paragraph, portrayed that unhappy country as a secular model for the Islamic world.

Freedom House has rated Azerbaijan as one of the 18 worst countries in the world for freedom of speech and one of the 10 worst for jailing reporters and opposition politicians. As Transparency International has noted, its oil-driven kleptocracy is one of the most corrupt in the world. Your article highlights performances in Azerbaijan by stars such as Jennifer Lopez; it might have also been worthwhile to note that Amnesty International (for which I serve as a specialist on Turkey) has publicly pleaded with performers such as Rihanna and Shakira to reconsider their concerts in that country in light of its sorry record of human rights abuses.

Iran’s religious authorities may well be, as your article suggested, horrified by aspects of Azerbaijani culture.

But we should all be horrified by Azerbaijan’s shoddy treatment of its own citizens.

Howard Eissenstat, Canton, N.Y.

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