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Last Updated: Friday, 10 December, 2004, 18:09 GMT
Hitler's book stirs anger in Azerbaijan
Front cover of Mein Kampf in Azeri
Police seizure of the book has divided Azeris

An attempt to get a new translation of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf into bookshops in Azerbaijan has infuriated Jewish groups and triggered the detention of the book's publisher.

Anti-mafia police briefly arrested the editor-in-chief of Xural newspaper, Avaz Zeynalli, for getting the book translated into Azeri and publishing a few hundred copies, press reports said.

Azadliq newspaper said it had taken Mr Zeynalli more than two years to translate the book and that local press have been publishing it in fragments for the past two years.

But by publishing the book in full, Mr Zeynalli may have broken a national ban on Hitler's anti-Semitic text.

Azerbaijan was part of the Soviet Union and took part in World War II against Nazi Germany.


The prosecutor-general's office announced it was investigating the matter on Thursday. Mr Zeynalli told Azadliq the investigation was prompted by a complaint by the Israeli embassy in Baku and the Azeri Jewish community.

Ethnic and religious tolerance is high in Azerbaijan and everybody acknowledges that
President Ilham Aliyev

The newspaper said that during his arrest, Mr Zeynalli managed to phone its editorial office. He told them he had translated Mein Kampf into Azeri from the Turkish language and had placed an order with a printing house for the publication of 300 copies, 100 of which had already been printed.

Azerbaijani police raided the editorial office of Xural this week and impounded the copies of the book found there, 525 Qazet newspaper reported.

Gennadiy Zelmanovich, representing the country's European Jews, told the paper the publication of the fascist leader's book in Azerbaijan was unacceptable, as hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis had perished during World War II.

He said the publication was disrespectful towards the Jews, who have lived side by side with Azerbaijanis for hundreds of years.

Azeri ANS TV on Friday showed President Ilham Aliyev meeting a delegation led by Lev Levayev, president of the CIS Federation of Jewish Communities.

"Ethnic and religious tolerance is high in Azerbaijan and everybody acknowledges that," it quoted Aliyev as saying.

Although he made no comment on the Hitler book incident, Mr Aliyev told Mr Levayev that throughout its history, including under Soviet rule, Azerbaijan had respected the Jews.

'Wrong step'

However some voices protested at the withdrawal of the book, while others welcomed the police action.

It is unacceptable for a democratic country to apply such methods
Islamic Democratic Party leader Tahir Abbasli

The editor-in-chief of 525 Qazet and secretary of the Union of Writers, Rasad Macid, described its removal from sale as a wrong step.

"The same holds true for The Satanic Verses," he said. "I think it is important for our intellectuals to read such books. I don't accept this artificially created aggression in Azerbaijan."

MP Rabiyat Aslanova, deputy chairwoman of parliament's commission for human rights welcomed its withdrawal from sale, according to 525 Qazet.

But the leader of the Islamic Democratic Party, Tahir Abbasli, said "Mein Kampf" had not been published in Azerbaijan to propagate fascism, and condemned the police move.

"It is unacceptable for a democratic country to apply such methods," he told the paper.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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