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'Shameful' Folktale Of Incest, Vulgarity Causes Outrage In Azerbaijan

The sixth volume of a now infamous collection of Azeri folklore stories
Five years after it was published by Azerbaijan's distinguished National Academy of Sciences, an anthology of “traditional” folklore is causing quite a stir in the Caspian Sea state.

In particular, one story found in the sixth volume of the ambiguously titled “Tales” anthology has been making the rounds online in Azerbaijan, primarily because it is fraught with vulgar language and graphic scenes of incest.

Now, people are beginning to ask how such a story could have made its way into a book like this, which has been available in bookstores and public libraries within easy reach of children.

The now infamous story, “The Unwanted Son-In-Law,” centers around a dispute between the families of a young couple. The incest-laden plot and the "colorful" language of the protagonists would put Sacha Baron Cohen’s crude character Borat to shame.

The story has also been criticized by several members of parliament, who are outraged at the tale's content.

"[The story] is unsuitable for children," said Kamila Aliyeva, a member of the Science and Education Committee. "It is full of vulgar words and curses.”

Aliyeva has also wondered how it is possible that the names of well-known intellectuals and scientists are listed as being on the editorial board for the offensive publication.

“I wonder if they were aware of the contents of the book," she asked. "If they were, it is shameful. And if they were not, it is also shameful.”

Orudgj Aliyev, a member of the Folklore Institute of the National Academy of Sciences and one of the people responsible for the anthology, was apparently not even aware of the story until the controversy arose earlier this month.

Although Aliyev claims that the book is not for sale anymore, RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani Service says the book can still be found in Baku’s Akhundov National Library, which is easily accessible to children.

-- Deana Kjuka and Rovshan Gambarov

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