Yeghiazariantz is leading efforts to restore
the Shushi mosque.
The tumbledown mosque of the 19th century in
Nagorno-Karabagh will soon become a museum and
a gallery of various religions' history and culture.
The Paris based Chene (hearth) benevolent organization
has undertaken the reconstruction of one of the
three mosques in Shushi, which is in poorest condition.
(The organization has conducted other works, such
as restoration of schools and hospitals in Karabagh.)
The initiator of the project, Chene representative
in Armenia Oshin Yeghiazariantz says that Shushi
has always been a crossroad of different cultures
and its architecture reflects the cultural elements
of the nations who lived there.
"The idea of the mosque's restoration captured
me a long time ago. The mosque as a church is
a house of a God," Yeghiazariantz says. "To
respect your culture you should learn to respect
the culture of other people too."
Chene is planning to initially invest $40,000
for the restoration and hopes to finish next year.
The mosque's minaret roof and façade will
be renovated and the storehouse will be constructed
in its backyard.
The idea of mosque reconstruction could be considered
controversial, taking into account the systematic
destruction of ancient Armenian monuments and
relics in Azerbaijani territory.
For the recent couple of years the Armenian Government
especially intensified its effords to prevent
the destruction of khachkars (cross stones) in
the ancient cemetery of Jugha, in the southern
of Nakhichevan, Azerbaijan.
But neither the effords of Armenian Government,
nor the visit of UNESCO delegation to the region
had a positive effect. At present only few khachkars
remained in Jugha out of the original 10,000.
But most people who found the project of mosque
renovation apolitical say that it is worthwhile.
The old timers of Shushi say that the mosque
was not used for its direct purposes, or at least
they know the other story about it.
Harus Hakobyan, a 72-year old Shushi resident
says that during the Soviet times the mosques
as well as churches were banned by Communists.
"This mosque was used as a state marriage
register office. Many Karabagh residents registered
here for their marriage," she says.
"I believe since Shushi was liberated and
returned back to Armenians we should be tolerant
to the memory of those people who built it."
Though the mosque is abandoned and ruined it
is fenced by the decision of Nagorno-Karabagh
The head of Karabagh Diocese Archibishop Pargev
says he is also against its destruction.
The sign on its entrance says that it is a historical
monument and is under the protection of the Government.
Greta Mirzoyan the head of the public organization
"Soldiers' Mothers" is one of the activists
to prevent the destruction of Armenian historical
and cultural monuments on Azerbaijani territory.
She believes that the reconstruction of a mosque
should become a model of tolerance to other people's
culture and history throughout the Caucasus region.
"The destruction of Armenian cemeteries
or graves in Azerbaijan is a part of Azerbaijani
state policy directed to remove all the evidences
of Armenian presence in the region. But vandalism
is never appreciated by history," she says.
According to the initiators of the project the
restored mosque will be a picture gallery and
museum of folk art. The representations of various
spiritual religions will have a chance to give
lectures on theological and philosophical issues.
"We call to all people to put culture over
politics," Yeghiazariantz says. "We
should join our effords to preserve cultural heritage.
The geopolitics should not prompt us to destroy.
The Caucasus should become a peaceful region and
its people should learn to live together."