A Proliferation of Statues, an Unsung Call for Protest
One thing you can be sure of as you travel the Caucasus is a surprisingly large quantity of statues, both expected and unexpected. On the expected side, you have the eternal Nizami Gəncəvi, seemingly featured in every town in Azerbaijan, likely in front of any library or museum. And Nizami’s popularity in Azerbaijan is surpassed only by the unrivaled Heydər Əliyev. And then you’ll also see local heroes, such as Lənkəran’s own Həzi Aslanov, a two-time Soviet war hero.
These aren’t that out of the ordinary. However, occasionally, you come across a statue that seems out of place. In Tbilisi, there’s a park dedicated Azerbaijan’s Heydər Əliyev, near (or at?) a park called Abano Tubanı. That version of Heydər is limbless, a torso and head resting on a shoulder-height pedestal. And in Xırdalan, a suburb of Baku, we have Egypt’s own Hosni Mubarak:
…unlike most Azerbaijanis, [Elnura] Jivazade sees Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak each morning. His statue, a symbol of Azerbaijani-Egyptian friendship, stands in a Khirdalan park that she passes each weekday on her way to work.
“I always wondered why this monument is standing here, and what will happen to it if the dictatorship falls in Egypt,” she said. “Now, Mubarak’s regime is falling, but he is still sitting here in the park with such confidence.”
I’m guessing that President Mubarak doesn’t hold so much confidence in Cairo right now. He could probably use some support from his stoic, Xırdalan-bound self.
The article above, from Eurasianet, seeks to draw connections between Egypt’s situation and our situation here in Azerbaijan. It’s a nice summary of some details, like the recording of a song by the First Ladies of the two countries and the two countries’ similarity in demographics. Yet, I think we can be fairly sure that the similarities don’t go much further than that.
Of course there are people here restless for change, but that’s how it is anywhere, regardless of the top leadership. I don’t question Zohrab Ismayil’s sincerity, but as Steve says here, Azerbaijan just isn’t in the same place right now that Egypt is, itching for a cause to blow up in opposition.
For more insight on Egypt, also take a peek at Steve’s recent postings here.