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Azerbaijani flag burnt at European weightlifting championship

Azerbaijani flag burnt at European weightlifting championship

Recently, it was reported that during the presentation of the teams participating in the European Weightlifting Competition, a man ran onto the stage and set fire to the Azerbaijani flag, as the crowd booed the appearance of the Azerbaijani athletes on stage.  Later on, it was reported that the man who did this was a member of the organizing committee of the championship, Aram Nikolyan.

This occurred after the Armenian government had assured the European Weightlifting Federation that they would ensure the security of all of the athletes at the championship including the Azerbaijani athletes throughout their stay in Armenia and prepare for all kinds of security incidents.   As a result of this incident, the Azerbaijani athletes were forced to forfeit their participation in the European Weightlifting Competition.

“In conditions when such an atmosphere of hatred prevails in Armenia, security is not ensured, the normal participation of Azerbaijani athletes in competitions is impossible due to the psychological pressure,” the Azerbaijani athletes said in a statement. “Politicizing sport is absolutely unacceptable,” it added, urging the European Weightlifting Federation to impose sanctions on Armenia.

Following the incident, the European Weightlifting Federation “strongly condemned the incident, considering it extremely serious and a regrettable gesture and an attack on the integrity of sport values and on the universal principle of fair play.”   The Israeli Canadian Council also condemned the burning of the Azerbaijani flag at the European Weightlifting Competition in Yereven, noting that they also burned a Turkish and Israeli flag.   They expressed their solidarity with the Israeli, Azerbaijani and Turkish people.

They continued: “It is important to remember that sporting events should be a platform for promoting peace and unity, not for fomenting hatred and violence.   The ICC remains committed to working towards a world where diversity is celebrated, and all cultures are respected.   The ICC will continue to promote understanding and dialogue among different communities and stand up against any form of bigotry, discrimination and hate.”

Zeynel Abidin Kiymaz, the head of the Union of Turkish Journalists, concurred: “I strongly condemn the burning of the Azerbaijani flag at the competition in Yerevan.   The burning of the state flag is unacceptable. I resolutely condemn the perpetrators of this incident at the weightlifting competition in Yerevan.”   The Dona Gracia Center for Diplomacy also issued an official statement, proclaiming that they would “like to condemn Armenia for burning the Azerbaijani flag at the European Weightlifting Competition,” emphasizing that a sporting event is no place to make political statements.



Rachel Avraham

Rachel Avraham is the CEO of the Dona Gracia Center for Diplomacy and the editor of the Economic Peace Center, which was established by Ayoob Kara, who served as Israel's Communication, Cyber and Satellite Minister. For close to a decade, she has been an Israel-based journalist, specializing in radical Islam, abuses of human rights and minority rights, counter-terrorism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Azerbaijan, Syria, Iran, and other issues of importance. Avraham is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media," a ground-breaking book endorsed by Former Israel Consul General Yitzchak Ben Gad and Israeli Communications Minister Ayoob Kara that discusses how the media exploits the life stories of Palestinian female terrorists in order to justify wanton acts of violence. Avraham has an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from Ben-Gurion University. She received her BA in Government and Politics with minors in Jewish Studies and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Maryland at College Park.