The anti-Azerbaijani sentiment, or anti-Azerbaijanism has been mainly rooted in several countries, most notably in Russia, Armenia and Iran, where anti-Azerbaijani sentiment has sometimes led to violent ethnic incidents.


According to a 2012 opinion poll, 63% of Armenians perceive Azerbaijan as "the biggest enemy of Armenia" while 94% of Azerbaijanis consider Armenia to be "the biggest enemy of Azerbaijan."[1] The root of the hostility against Azerbaijanis traced from the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Early period

Further information: Armenian–Azerbaijani War

In the early 20th century the Transcaucasian Armenians began to equate the Caucasian Tatars (now mostly called Azerbaijanis) with the perpetrators of anti-Armenian policies such as the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire, due to the Armenian-Tatar massacres.[2][3]

In March 1918, during a Bolshevik takeover, later called the March Days, an estimate of 3,000 to 10,000 Azerbaijanis were killed by Bolshevik troops and ethnic Armenian militias, orchestrated by the Bolshevist Stepan Shahumyan, while up to 2500 Armenians were killed by ethnic Azerbaijani militias.[4][5]

According to Firuz Kazemzadeh,

The brutalities continued for weeks. No quarter was given by either side: neither age nor sex was respected. Enormous crowds roamed the streets, burning houses, killing every pass-by who was identified as an enemy, many innocent persons suffering death at the hands of both the Armenians and the Azerbaijanis. The struggle which had begun as a political contest between Musavat and the Soviet assumed the character of a gigantic race riot.[6]

During the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

Further information: First Nagorno-Karabakh War

After the First Nagorno-Karabakh War anti-Azerbaijani sentiment grew in Armenia, leading to harassment of Azerbaijanis there.[7] In the beginning of 1988 the first refugee waves from Armenia reached Baku. In 1988, Azerbaijanis and Kurds (around 167,000 people) were expelled from the Armenian SSR.[8] Following the Karabakh movement, initial violence erupted in the form of the murder of both Armenians and Azerbaijanis and border skirmishes.[9] As a result of these skirmishes, 214 Azerbaijanis were killed.[10]

On June 7, 1988, Azerbaijanis were evicted from the town of Masis near the Armenian–Turkish border, and on June 20 five villages that were mostly populated by Azerbaijanis were emptied in the Ararat Province.[11] Henrik Pogosian was ultimately forced to retire, blamed for letting nationalism develop freely.[11] Although purges of the Armenian and Azerbaijani party structures were made against those who had fanned or not sought to prevent ethnic strife, as a whole, the measures taken are believed to be meager.[11]

The year 1993 was marked by the highest wave of the Azerbaijani internally displaced persons, when the Karabakh Armenian forces occupied territories beyond the Nagorno-Karabakh borders.[12]

After the First Nagorno-Karabakh War

Destroyed cities of Aghdam and Jabrayil. Ilham Aliyev in front of the ruined Vagif Mausoleum in Shusha.

On January 16, 2003 Robert Kocharian said that Azerbaijanis and Armenians were "ethnically incompatible"[13] and it was impossible for the Armenian population of Karabakh to live within an Azerbaijani state.[14] Speaking on 30 January in Strasbourg, Council of Europe Secretary-General Walter Schwimmer said Kocharian's comment was tantamount to warmongering. Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe President Peter Schieder said he hopes Kocharian's remark was incorrectly translated, adding that "since its creation, the Council of Europe has never heard the phrase "ethnic incompatibility".[14]

In 2010 an initiative to hold a festival of Azerbaijani films in Yerevan was blocked due to popular opposition. Similarly, in 2012 a festival of Azerbaijani short films, organized by the Armenia-based Caucasus Center for Peace-Making Initiatives and supported by the U.S. and British embassies, which was scheduled to open on April 12, was canceled in Gyumri after protesters blocked the festival venue.[15][16]

On September 2, 2015, the Minister of Justice Arpine Hovhannisyan on her personal Facebook page shared an article link featuring her interview with the Armenian news website where she condemned the sentencing of an Azerbaijani journalist and called the human rights situation in Azerbaijan "appalling". Subsequently, the minister came under criticism for liking a racist comment on the aforementioned Facebook post by Hovhannes Galajyan, editor-in-chief of local Armenian newspaper Iravunk; On the post, Galajyan had commented in Armenian: "What human rights when even purely biologically a Turk cannot be considered a human".[17]

Mosques in Armenia

Further information: Islam in Armenia and List of mosques in Armenia

Blue Mosque, Yerevan

The Blue Mosque is the only functioning Persian mosque and one of the two remaining mosques in present-day Yerevan. In the opinion of the journalist Thomas de Waal, writing out Azerbaijanis of Armenia from history was made easier by a linguistic sleight of hand, as the name "Azeri" or "Azerbaijani" was not in common usage before the twentieth century, and these people were referred to as "Tartars", "Turks" or simply "Muslims". De Waal adds that "Yet they were neither Persians nor Turks; they were Turkic-speaking Shiite subjects of the Safavid Dynasty of the Iranian Empire". According to De Waal, when the Blue Mosque is referred to as Persian it "obscures the fact that most of the worshippers there, when it was built in the 1760s, would have been, in effect, Azerbaijanis".[18]

Tapabashy Mosque, Kond, Yerevan

The other remaining mosque in Yerevan, the Tapabashy Mosque was likely built in 1687 during the Safavid dynasty in the historic Kond district. Today, only the 1.5 meter-thick walls and sections of its outer perimeter roof still stand. The main dome collapsed in the 1960s (1980's according to residents and neighbors), though a smaller dome still stands. The mosque was used as by Armenian refugees following the Armenian genocide and their descendants still live inside the mosque today. According to residents, the Azerbaijanis of Yerevan held prayer services until they left for Baku in 1988 due to the tensions surrounding the war.[19] The remnants of the mosque are protected by the Armenian state as a historical monument.[20] In 2021, Armenia issued a tender to restore and reconstruct the historic Kond district including the mosque.[21]

In the Syunik Province of Armenia, the remaining mosques in the towns of Kapan, Sisian, and Meghri are maintained by the state under the Non-Armenian historical and cultural Monuments in Syunik designation.[22]


The anti-Azerbaijani sentiment is rooted in the hostility in the 1990s, during which Iran was blamed by Azerbaijan for supporting Armenia in the First Nagorno-Karabakh War despite the Iranian government claimed it helped Azerbaijan.[23][24] Therefore, a sense of hostility against Azerbaijan developed in Iran as a result, fostering an alliance between Iran and Armenia.[citation needed]

In 2006, a cartoon controversy with regard to Azerbaijani people had led to unrest as the Azerbaijanis have been compared to cockroaches by the Iranian-speaking majority population.[25][26] During 2012, fans of Tractor Sazi, an Azerbaijani-dominated football club, chanted anti-Iranian rhetorics, raising their voice against oppression of ethnic Azerbaijanis by the Iranian government and their neglect after the East Azerbaijan earthquakes; the Iranian police force responded violently, arresting dozens.[27] Azerbaijani activists have also increasingly faced harassments by the Iranian government for its effort to protect the Azerbaijani minority in Iran.[28]


During Georgia's movement toward independence from the Soviet Union, the Azeri population expressed fear for its fate in independent Georgia. In the late 1980s, most ethnic Azeris occupying local government positions in the Azeri-populated areas were removed from their positions.[29] In 1989, there were changes in the ethnic composition of the local authorities and the resettlement of thousands of migrants who had suffered from landslides in the mountainous region of Svaneti. The local Azeri population, accepting the migrants at first, demanded only to resolve the problem of Azeri representation on the municipal level. The demands were ignored; later the migrants, culturally different from the local population and facing social hardships, were accused of attacks and robbery against the Azeris,[30] which in turn led to demonstrations, ethnic clashes between Svans and Azeris, demands for an Azeri autonomy in Borchali and for the expulsion of Svan immigrants from Kvemo-Kartli.[31][32] The antagonism reached its peak during the presidency of Zviad Gamsakhurdia (1991–1992), when hundreds of Azeri families were forcibly evicted from their homes in Dmanisi and Bolnisi by nationalist paramilitaries and fled to Azerbaijan. Thousands of Azeris emigrated in fear of nationalist policies.[32] In his speech in Kvareli, Gamsakhurdia accused the Azeri population of Kakheti of "holding up their heads and measuring swords with Kakheti".[33] The Georgian nationalist press expressed concern with regard to the fast natural growth of the Azeri population.[34]

Although ethnic oppression in the 1990s did not take place on a wide scale, minorities in Georgia, especially Azeris, Abkhazians and Ossetians, encountered the problem of dealing with nationalist organisations established in some parts of the country. Previously not prone to migrating, Azeris became the second-largest emigrating ethnic community in Georgia in the early 1990s, with three-quarters of these mainly rural emigrants leaving for Azerbaijan and the rest for Russia. Unlike other minority groups, many remaining Azeris cited attachment to their home communities and unwillingness to leave behind well-developed farms as their reason to stay.[34] Furthermore, Georgian-born Azeris who immigrated to Azerbaijan at various times, including 50,000 Georgian-born spouses of Azerbaijani citizens, reported bureaucratic problems faced in Azerbaijan, with some unable to acquire Azerbaijani citizenship for nearly 20 years.[35]

See also


  1. ^ "The South Caucasus Between The EU And The Eurasian Union" (PDF). Caucasus Analytical Digest #51–52. Forschungsstelle Osteuropa, Bremen and Center for Security Studies, Zürich. 17 June 2013. p. 21. ISSN 1867-9323. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 3 July 2013.
  2. ^ Croissant, Michael (1998). The Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict: Causes and Implications. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 8. ISBN 0275962415.
  3. ^ Willem van Schendel, Erik Jan Zürcher. Identity Politics in Central Asia and the Muslim World: Nationalism, Ethnicity and Labour in the Twentieth Century. I.B.Tauris, 2001. ISBN 1-86064-261-6, ISBN 978-1-86064-261-6, p. 43
  4. ^ Smith, Michael (April 2001). "Anatomy of Rumor: Murder Scandal, the Musavat Party and Narrative of the Russian Revolution in Baku, 1917–1920". Journal of Contemporary History. 36 (2): 228. doi:10.1177/002200940103600202. S2CID 159744435. The results of the March events were immediate and total for the Musavat. Several hundreds of its members were killed in the fighting; up to 12,000 Muslim civilians perished; thousands of others fled Baku in a mass exodus
  5. ^ The leaders of the Tartars at Baku were convinced that they would easily disarm the Armenian soldiers, because they were somewhat shut up in Baku, but they were sadly mistaken in their calculations. After a bloody battle which lasted a whole week the Armenians remained masters of the city and its oil wells. They suffered a loss of nearly 2,500 killed, while Tartars lost more than 10,000. The commander of the military forces of the Armenians was the same General Bagradouni, who, although he lost both of his legs during the fight, continued his duties until September 14, when the Armenians and the small number of Englishmen who came to their assistance, were forced to abandon Baku to the superior forces of the Turco-Tartars, and retreat toward the city of Enzeli in the northern Caucasus  Pasdermadjian1918 pp. 193
  6. ^ Croissant, Michael P. The Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict: Causes and Implications. p. 14.
  7. ^ Cornell, Svante (2010). Azerbaijan Since Independence. M.E. Sharpe. p. 48. ISBN 978-0765630032.
  8. ^ Barrington, p. 230
  9. ^ Barrington, Lowell (2006). After Independence: Making and Protecting the Nation in Postcolonial & Postcommunist States. University of Michigan Press. p. 231. ISBN 0472068989.
  10. ^ Окунев, Дмитрий. ""Меня преследует этот запах": 30 лет армянским погромам в Баку". Газета.Ru (in Russian). Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  11. ^ a b c Svante E. Cornell (1999). "The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict" (PDF). Silkroadstudies. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 April 2013. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  12. ^ Geukjian, Ohannes (2012). Ethnicity, Nationalism and Conflict in the South Caucasus: Nagorno-Karabakh and the Legacy of Soviet Nationalities Policy. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 199. ISBN 978-1409436300.
  13. ^ "Nagorno-Karabakh: Timeline Of The Long Road To Peace". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 2 February 2012.
  14. ^ a b "Newsline". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. February 3, 2003. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  15. ^ "Azerbaijani Film Festival Canceled In Armenia After Protests". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. April 13, 2012. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  16. ^ Soghoyan, Yeranuhi (April 11, 2012). "Gyumri Mayor Permits Anti-Azerbaijani Film Protest; Bans Local Environmentalists". Hetq online. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  17. ^ Armenian Newly Appointed Justice Minister Criticized for 'Liking' Racist Comment
  18. ^ de Waal, Thomas (2003). Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan Through Peace and War. New York: New York University Press. p. 80. ISBN 978-0-8147-1945-9..
  19. ^ Arpi Maghakyan, "Old Yerevan Should be Rebuilt in Kond" (December 19, 2005). . Hetq Online
  20. ^ Arpine Haroyan, Hovhannes Nazaretyan (August 13, 2018). "Kond: A City Within a City". Dating back to 1687, the Thapha Bashi mosque, the remnants of which only remain in Kond is listed as a historical monument and is protected by the Armenian state. When Muslims left Armenia at the beginning of the 20th century, the mosque became a residence for many survivors of the Armenian genocide. One can still see the influence of Persian architecture that fortunately remain intact. As the residents recall, the "huge dome" of the mosque collapsed more than two decades ago, several years after the Spitak Earthquake.
  21. ^ "The Third Attempt of Reconstruction". February 11, 2021.
  22. ^ Lusine Kharatyan (September 2019). "Policies on Cultural Heritage of National Minorities in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia". The non-Armenian historical and cultural monuments in Syunik Province of Armenia are located near the towns of Kapan, Meghri, Sisian, including Muslim (six sites) cemeteries, mausoleums, mosques, and an Orthodox church. The "Historical Environment and Historical-Cultural Museum Preserves Protection Service" NCSO of the Ministry of Culture of Armenia is responsible for the maintenance of the monuments, which are regarded as state property.
  23. ^ "Iranian Official: We Helped Azerbaijan In Karabakh War | Eurasianet".
  24. ^ Taleblu, Behnam Ben (7 October 2020). "Will Iran's past become prologue for Nagorno-Karabakh?". Axios.
  25. ^ Wood, Graeme. "Iran: A Minority Report". The Atlantic. Retrieved 10 July 2017.
  26. ^ Ali M. Koknar (6 June 2006). "Iranian Azeris: A Giant Minority". Retrieved 10 July 2017.
  27. ^ "Security forces' attack on Azeri fans marks rising ethnic tension in Iran – Turkish News". Hürriyet Daily News. 13 December 2012.
  28. ^ "The mass arrests of Azerbaijani activists in Iran". Al Arabiya English. July 9, 2018.
  29. ^ Jonathan Wheatley (September 2009). Интеграция национальных меньшинств в регионах Грузии Самцхе-Джавахети и Квемо Картли (in Russian). European Centre for Minorities.
  30. ^ Tom Trier & Medea Turashvili. Resettlement of Ecologically Displaced Persons Solution of a Problem or Creation of a New Eco-Migration in Georgia 1981 – 2006 Archived 2018-09-23 at the Wayback Machine. ECMI Monograph #6. August 2007
  31. ^ Alexander Kukhinadze. "Ethnic Minorities in Eastern and Southern Georgia" (in Russian). Memorial. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2006-08-21.
  32. ^ a b "Georgia's Armenian and Azeri minorities". Report 178 Europe. 22 November 2006. Archived from the original on 2011-02-09.
  33. ^ (in Russian) Sergey Markedonov The Land and Will of Zviad Gamsakhurdia Archived 2013-07-29 at the Wayback Machine // Institute of Political and Military Analysis. 4 April 2007.
  34. ^ a b Mamuka Komakhia. Ethnic Minorities in Georgia Archived 2015-10-03 at the Wayback Machine.
  35. ^ Ulviyya Akhundova. Serve but Don't Expect Citizenship[permanent dead link]. Zerkalo. 4 July 2012.