Thursday, August 25, 2016


Textbook Poem By President's Daughter Causes Kerfuffle In Azerbaijan

Leyla Aliyeva, the eldest daughter of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, seems to fancy herself as something of a Renaissance woman.
Leyla Aliyeva, the eldest daughter of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, seems to fancy herself as something of a Renaissance woman.
Whatever your opinion of Azerbaijan's first daughter, Leyla Aliyeva, you have to admit that she is pretty prolific.

Indeed, when it comes to her artistic, social, and cultural interests, the eldest child of authoritarian President Ilham Aliyev has far more pies than she has fingers to put in them.

Besides being vice president of her mother's charitable Heydar Aliyev Foundation as well as one of the main players in Azerbaijan's aviation and telecommunications industries, she also somehow finds the time to carry out her duties as editor in chief of the "Baku" style magazine.

According to Aliyeva's own snazzy website, her other accomplishments include being a business guru, friendship ambassador, and environmental campaigner.

Throw in the fact that Aliyeva is also a visual artist, movie producer, and poet, it seems that she is quite the Renaissance woman (or at least a pretty enthusiastic dilettante).

Her literary talents were recognized recently when one of her poems was included in a school reader for fifth-graders.

Aliyeva's "Elegy" for her late grandfather and former Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev appears in the textbook alongside the work of revered Azeri writers such as Cafar Cabbarli.

As this brief excerpt illustrates, it's a heartfelt tribute to the third president of independent Azerbaijan and expresses Aliyeva's sadness at his passing:

I wish I was a bird flying to the stars
And that the moon illuminated my way
And I wish I met you there
And we turned together toward Earth

Listen to the whispers of my grief –
I know well what separation is!
I wish the winds would spread the cry of my heart
To the whole universe

The poem, however, (which carries on in the same vein for another six stanzas) is not universally appreciated and there are even people who have criticized its inclusion in an official school reader.

The poem by Leyla AliyevaThe poem by Leyla Aliyeva
The poem by Leyla Aliyeva
The poem by Leyla Aliyeva
Some have actually suggested that the poem's publication in the book might have more to do with Aliyeva's status in Azerbaijan than with her literary talent.

"Maybe the girl [Aliyeva] herself doesn't know about this," prominent writer Akram Aylisli told RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service. "Flattery is so widespread in this country that maybe somebody just took this poem and included it in the book. Schoolbooks have been never been as bad as they are now."

Opposition blogger and activist Zaur Qurbanli went even further.

"This is the poetry of the daughter of the dictator Ilham Aliyev," he wrote on September 25. "Look what we are coming to. This is the method of poisoning our children. We should protest as much as we can."

Unfortunately, Qurbanli didn't get much of a chance to participate in any demonstrations. He was detained on September 29 in connection with illicit drug operations and "illegal documents and objects" that were found in his office.

The authorities have tried to play down any controversy over "Elegy." The head of the Schoolbooks Department of the Azerbaijani Ministry of Education, Faiq Shahbazly, simply described the inclusion of the work in a school anthology as "normal."

"It has not been included in a main textbook; it's a complementary reader" he said. "And the poem itself is very nice.

-- Coilin O'Connor, with contributions by RFE/RL Azerbaijani Service correspondent Shahnaz Baylargizi
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
October 02, 2012 17:36
Shame on you,stupid and ungrateful westerners for criticizing our great lady of world culture,the greater than her mother Maryban ban,the both Layla and Madjlun of our times and a great belly dancer,too,although the biggest belly in the land belongs to her father-himself a grand vizier and eunuch of all times-Sultan Allahtan Ilhan the magnificent-may Allah and his western and eastern puppeteers grant him at least a thousand more years to rule and spread his Safarov style democracy all over the land!!!
In Response

by: Demetrius M from: My House
October 03, 2012 21:01
The westerners are criticizing her works? It seems that Akram Aylisli is not a "westerner". Nor is Zaur Qurbanli.
I guess no one's paying you to read these articles, just to post ridicules comments.
In Response

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
October 04, 2012 14:44
Dear Dim.the CIA and the FSB are paying me very good money to read articles and play the fool with my ridiculous posts.Oh,`scuse me ,I forgot Mossad,the Vatican,and I also hear Hamas and Hezbollah are in line to pay me their good money,too.Have you noticed the number of critical articles of Azeristan since the azeri Honchos declined to give the yahoodies a platzdarm to attack Iran? Same thing happenned when the wild turkey refused shamericans the use of their military bases to attack Iraq and destroy their WMD,ha,bloody,ridiculous ha,ha,ha!!! Good old Eric Burdon sings in a folk song:`There is a house in New Orleans-its called the rising sun`-is that where you post your comments from???Cause the next lines go:`And its been the ruin of many poor boys-and god ,I know-Dim`s one !!! Shame on you,my boy!!!

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