Monday, 16 May 2011

Finally proud to be Azeri?

Okay. I was not going to talk about this, just because there is no point. Saturday night Azerbaijan finally got something they desperately pursued for a while. The whole nation is in euphoria. 
But one thing just keeps rolling over and over in my head. What is the matter with me? Why am I not more excited about this?

Saturday night, Facebook news feed  was full of my Azeri friends not simply expressing their happiness at the fact Azerbaijan won the Eurovision contest, but actually weeping, stating just how overwhelmed they were, and bursting with national pride. One girl posted: ‘Thank you, thank you my darlings, the swan couple!’

Not sure what poor birds had to do with this, but that expression made me feel nauseous. And I can’t even blame the pregnancy hormone, as I am way past that stage. It really was the swans. ( The whole swan song or lebedinaya pesnya is an old-fashioned Russian expression, actually referring to the last song before one of the swans dies. I am not sure if swans can sing, but hey, that is not relevant. Neither for the swans, nor for the Eurovision contestants.) 

I don’t know what surprised me more. The fact that everyone else, including all those people who left their home country years ago, suddenly felt proud to be Azeri (but not quite proud enough to go back to live there) because of one awfully trashy European pop song....Or the fact that I was, clearly, alone with my lack of national pride over something like this. 

I already said all that I thought about Eurovision last year. So it seems a bit pointless to explain all over again. I am curious though, about one thing. Okay. I appreciate that not all of us can have good taste in music. But surely, most of us can tell if someone has no voice?

Let me put this in very simple terms. We are all thrilled and proud that:
       a)      Roughly half of the population is living in poverty, with pensioners probably suffering the most; but thousands, if not millions was spent on the useless, tasteless song contest.

       b)      Nothing in this performance resembles anything about the country it comes from. Even the names of the singers are altered not to sound too Azeri. So, instead of Eldar and Nigyar we were represented by El and Nikki. If it is so obvious to me, not a ‘proper Azeri’ as I am often told on this blog, how obvious should it be to all you proud nationalists out there?

       c)       The song is crap. But to be fair, somewhat catchier crap than the rest of them this year.

      d)      Nikki, the female do I say this politely? No, sorry, there is no other way to put it: Can’t sing. Not only can she not sing, she does not live in Azerbaijan and looks like she could be Eldar’s step-mother who is about to seduce him. But, somehow, she won the competition to represent the country. This, to me, has only two possible reasons. One suggests that her place was bought or arranged by someone influential she is related to. Another- that a huge chunk of the nation who voted for her can’t tell if someone has no voice or talent. You choose which one is the preferred version.

But, really, at this point, none of it matters. 

 Just like I was told about the Royal wedding frenzy: People need some fun. Something to be happy about. Stop being such a party pooper! 

So what we have an appalling human rights record in Azerbaijan, so what about the corruption, so what about the depressing poverty... At least now we can celebrate the fact that we won the most bizarre, tasteless song contest. Some even believe that Azerbaijan’s victory was based purely on the exclusive talent and hard work of the swan couple.

Also, I suspect, to a lot of people, winning this contest means something that I just don’t think it does. For instance, that we are now officially cool. Or that we are now a part of Europe. 

But, before you tell me off for my complete lack of any patriotic feelings....I have to say, it is kind of fun, anyway. There is a small- a tiny, in fact- part of me that thinks this is going to be interesting. Okay, you will never get me to feel proud to be Azeri (quoting yet another Facebook status from last night) because of Eurovision. Come on! Be proud to be Azeri, feel free, but surely, you must have other, better reasons for it.

But okay, okay. I will try. I promise. I will not laugh when people congratulate me.  I won’t cringe. I won’t focus on the negatives. Instead, I will try my best to think of the good things that might come out of it. For example, with all those people who watch the contest, and the attention drawing to Azerbaijan as the possible host for 2012, would at least some things change for the best? Would there be some benefit to the people? Also, as some friends wondered, would Armenians participate? Would they be welcome to?  Would Azerbaijan handle the fact that Eurovision is extremely gay, and will involve a huge gay crowd coming to Baku? Would it show its hospitality to all of the above? How will it actually work, if it does at all?
So, yes. Curiosity is probably one of the feelings I have right now. From this point of view, I am excited about this victory. Can’t wait to see what happens. And oh, yes:  congratulations to all of you who are really happy and proud.


  1. Nice post. Especially choosing pet names as alternative to Azeri one. Nikki was my late cat's name :) I just want to add something to update your data, ''Roughly half of the population is living in poverty'' - it was in 2001, maybe when you were still living in Azerbaijan; but at the present time, poverty is 13% (2010, CIA/UN data, not Azeri statistics).

  2. What about the Turkish flag? No? No? No mention? It was the funniest thing about the whole 'big' victory :D

  3. A: The money spent on this was probably the investment of the century. Not only will it provide an enormous economic boost (on top of already high economic growth) it also has major political ramifications, possibly altering NATO's policy on Iran.
    B: Yea that bothers me too, but for better or for worse there is Anglo-Saxon cultural and linguistic hegemony as a result of American power, conformity is fun like that. If you want to win, you'll have to sing in English and appeal to the MTV-esque crowd. (They should make everyone to sing in their own language imo)
    C: Supply and demand, if the people want crap give them crap. Blame free markets for that.
    D: Didn't really notice her voice but the song was okay-ish I guess, with the right marketing this song (sang by JLO or anyone famous) could've been a summer hit.

    Personally I'm not proud or anything as I thought Italy or France should've won, but considering the economic and political (and cultural!) consequences I'm definitely very glad it turned out the way it did.
    Also, pride and living somewhere have little to do with each other unless one identifies oneself with the State, which is incredibly dangerous and stupid.

  4. Can't agree more. Sucks to live here, they have been playing that song outside for like 3 hours straight now.

  5. I guess if Peru wins an international contest like this one (or any other international contest), people around would be just as you describe Azeri people are. Is that kind of conforting for you?

  6. As one of the 30 or 40 Americans who follows this contest, I find your take on it interesting, and I appreciate your posts on it.

    But regardless of one's opinion of the song or the performance (and I, for one, was dumbfounded when it won, but my favorite was Spain so what do I know?), I think the Azeri government may learn something about being careful what they wish for. The international attention that's going to be turned on Azerbaijan now is going to be intense.

    I don't see how that's a bad thing. They've handed over a political baseball bat for all of Europe to bop them over the head with for the next year. Everybody knows what and where Azerbaijan is now.

    Did you see the press conference that followed the final? The press corps wasn't at all subtle in expressing their concerns about whether all participants and fans would be welcomed. I felt badly for Eldar and Nikki right then ... two very tired singers having to unilaterally formulate Azeri political policy right there in front of hundreds of cameras.

    I think the "swan couple" thing might have been referring to Hans Christian Andersen's story of the Ugly Duckling, not the Russian swan song.

  7. I understand your points and agree with them. Then again, what is wrong with a little happiness? Apparently there isn't much to be happy about,so never mind. It won't last long.

  8. Well... I don't feel proud, but I feel kind of happy for azeries. And may be this will make some people to ask themselves: What is Azerbaijan? Where is it?
    Isn't it a good thing? :)))
    You know, my spell checker doesn’t know what “azeri” is?

  9. You nailed it, Scary. Well said.

  10. I think you are just a typical pessimist from communist era. Nothing is ever good enough. Look, I didnt like the song either, but what the heck they won. That means it was good enough for Europe. So Im not going to whine about it. And Im sorry to dissapoint you, but there was no 'bribing' involved in the candidates. Also 'Nikki and El' were chosen by European press, you should have researched this. You missed the biggest point of all. The lesson for Azerbaijan is: our participation in Eurovision was handled democratically and look how that turned out. We kicked ass and won, so it proof to Azerbaijani people - democracy is our way, it is the only way. With democracy we can truly become champions!

  11. ay bedbext! sene bir sual: sen bu yazdiglarinla ne gazanmag isteyirsen? o gun gelecek ki sen hesret olacagsan bizim Bakiya!
    sen necede terbiyessiz insansan, sen axi oz veteninden nece bele pis-pis sheyler yaza bilirsen?!tek bu posti yox, butun postlarini nezerde aliram.
    sex cox iki uzdu insansan. hem deyirsenki azeri dostlarin var ve ona baxmayarag sen bele sheyler yazirsan. men utandim senin dostlarinin yerine! kim axi senin kimi kifir ve paxil adamnan dost ola biler! tfuuuu....

  12. Scary, I second your views.

    As an Azeri myself, currently living in States, I am thrilled to be out of the Eurovision zone, and have nothing to do with that foolishness.

    It was out of my personal principles, that I did not watch any trailers, promos, recordings, or anything else that had a slightest connection to Eurovision, or Az's participation in it; and though there is a tiny piece within me that hopes the country doesn't screw up hosting the show in 2012, there is also something else that wishes it does, so it would shake it up, and (maybe) help get out of its misery.

    Noor (aka JahT's friend)

  13. @ Anonymous #1

    I think you are mistaking absolute and relative poverty. 10-14% has been an absolute poverty standard for Az for the past 6-7 years, whereas relative poverty has been fluctuating between 30-45% in the past 4-5 years.

    Also, keep in mind, that when compiling these stats, the calculations are being made on "nominal values", which is that they take total GDP (think petrodollars) and divide them by total population and that number comes to $10-15k per capita. Now, if you're an Azeri yourself or have a faintest idea of the country, you'll know it is a ridiculous number.

    So, I suggest that before you run to stats, look out your window, or better check out the rayons first.

    Noor, (aka JahT's friend)

  14. @Scary: I feel pretty much the same about this "victory" and certainly don't see much reason to celebrate. On the other hand, it must be a huge achievement in the eyes of the Eurovision nuts (I mean, fans). Just remember how happy we were when a team from Baku would win KVN competition on Soviet TV. And don't begrudge Nigyar for using a nickname - the original sounds too much as a racial slur in English (we are legally changing my daughter's name for this reason).

    @Kaweh: I can totally see how this will change NATO policy towards Iran! We should arrange for the duo to sing in front of UN General Assembly - I bet this will solve all of the world problems :)))))

  15. Of course Azerbaijan did not really win the ESC. Why, you might ask? Because Ictimai TV the publish broadcasting channel of the Republic of Azerbaijan and member of the European Broadcasting Union broke the rules of the competition at the national selection stage and should have been disallowed from participation. It is a requirement of the European Broadcasting Union that their members publish FOR ALL TO SEE the rules of the national selection process. Ictimai TV did publish the rules, but unfortunately these were out of date and did not declare the rules for sms national selection voting. So sorry cheated, and cheated you OWN people before anyone even got near Dusseldorf!

  16. @Riyad: If you knew anything about Iran you'd know ethnic minorities constitute 70% of the country, of which Azeri's are probably 25% of the total population. There have been more and more protests in Tabriz and other major Azeri cities demanding linguistic and cultural rights. The sunni Kurds have been fighting actively since the sun rose, and the shia Kurds are showing increasing dissatisfaction due to the same oppression other ethnic minorities endure.
    The increase of an Azeri identity amongst Iranian Azeri's is a serious problem for the regime as Azeri's are well represented in the upper classes and are the only ones who can challenge the culturally and linguistically dominating Fars. This has a domino effect on the other ethnic minorities, who are increasingly vocal.
    The Mossad have already hinted towards destabilizing Iran by exploiting this weakness, and NATO is no fool.
    The state apparatus has cracks in it and is slowly crumbling. The winning of the crappy festival and consequently Eurovision being held in Baku in 2012 is a real headache for Iranian authorities.

    If you knew about the assimilation policy which includes/included banning of any Azeri music, language and any kind of organization, you'd realize the importance of this event. Sadly, you resort to sarcasm, the lowest form of wit.

  17. So...Eurovision, yeah. Pretty cheesy.

  18. @ Kaweh..........some of the things you have written seem to be the thoughts of a rational person.....but a crappy song contest changing NATO's approach to Iran, I think that is a little optimistic to say the least. Of course next year the Azeris will make a fuck up of hosting the contest, they will try but their Turkic/Soviet mentality now topped with an icing of overblown egotism will ensure a mess. There are some things money just can't buy!

  19. Scary can you see how many nasty anonimous (armenian) remarks you provoked? About the Turkish flag:) It is the thing that is burning armenians. What is burning armenians pleases me extremely( btw, I hadn't listened to a single Eurovision song before Sunday morning, hadn't been interested). One of the reasons you are not happy about the results of the ESC is that you have been trashing the contest before, and you don't think that you have enemies (you lost no one to armenians), you don't even know which territories are under occupation,you had no idea that there are around 300000 Azeris living in Georgia, you don't even speak Azeri. You feel superior to us, you have a better musical test (we don't, of course), you are worried about corruption and poverty (come on:-). And all those who are happy and proud are just stupid.

    1. Yes, they are stupid. How can you be proud of just the concept? The song is really crap, I must say. A bunch of teenagers would have sung it better.

  20. @Anonymous who thinks Azeris will make a fuck up hosting the contest:

    You are correct: there are things money can't buy, but hosting a cheesy pop music show is not one of them. I'm sure Baku can hire professionals who will turn Eurovision 2012 into a hugely successful event. That's not the point, though. I personally would be much more proud if Baku got rid of potholes on their streets. Try that, our dear UNESCO Goodwill Embassador!

  21. @Kaweh: Ah, we are back on talking terms, I presume.
    A) Oh, the economic growth is already there. But all it has led to so far is the bigger gap between the corrupt and the poor, between the connected and the ‘normal’. The money seems to be pouring in the country, but focusing in very few pockets, only in bigger sums. Many are struggling to survive, and that number only seems to grow. This potential economic boost will only benefit very few people, again, unless some proper changes happen. But don’t take me wrong, I hope it has at least some positive effect. Even if they have nothing to eat but feel proud. How long can the whole nation be fed the national pride while watching the rich get even richer is what we will have to wait and see.
    D) you did not notice her voice for obvious reasons- it was not there! 
    @Hikmat: I am so pleased there are people like you still in Baku! Respect! Be careful though, some people here will say you are probably Armenian.
    @narkspud: You have a good point about the international attention and how it will now be handled. That is what I find to be an interesting development now. No, the swans don’t really refer to Andersen’s story. Trust me. It is a poetic Russian expression. 
    @Miss Footloose: You are right. I enjoyed watching videos of the celebrations. It is such a rare thing to witness, and if I were in Baku now, I bet I would be affected, despite my personal ideas.
    @Victoria: Yes, that is one of the definite perks for all of us, especially the ones living abroad, who constantly have to explain we are not Russians.
    @Marianna: Thank you.
    @Anonymous: I so wish I saw the world with your pink tinted shades on.
    @Anonymous Azeri speaker: I love your ‘tfu’ at the end. So cute! I actually understood this, wow, my Azeri must be better than I thought! Cool.
    @Noor: Thanks for commenting, and thanks for your explanation of stats. 13%? Please.
    @Riyad: I get your point about her name, totally. But it still felt wrong. Not just the names, the whole fake European image...Her living in the UK probably had a huge impact in the selection process. As I said before when they were just chosen, I heard a few Azeris admiring her accent. I think her European image has more weight than her musical ability. (And don’t forget those boobs!) But as someone here said so what, they won. 
    @The last anonymous: It is precisely the people like you with your (sadly, very typical) outlook on this, is what can potentially make this 2012 hosting impossible.

  22. @Riyad: Oh, the potholes...I so wish the UK government got rid of those, too! :)))

    Speaking of the UK, as an expert of Eurovision, I did not know that the UK automatically gets to be in the finals?!

    I love this show. You pay enough, and you are in the finals, even if you are almost deliberately trying to send the worst singers the country has to offer. LOL

  23. Scary, this is a truly amusing post that just oozes superiority. Do you honestly believe that people in Azerbaijan consider Eurovision the most high-class cultural event in the world or the contestants to be the epitome of the singing talent? Reading your post, one would think that everyone in Azerbaijan has a horrible musical taste and you're one of the few who doesn't.
    One thing that you fail to understand is that this is all NOT about the songs or the singers. Naturally, most of them are quite bad and can't sing. The whole thing is about bringing one of the worlds most watched annual events to Azerbaijan, and whether you accept it or not, Eurovision is one of them. This year around 120 million people watched it. Just to give you an idea, UEFA Champions League final which is the most watched annual sporting event in the world had an audience of over 100 million in 2010.

    Eurovision is going to be the biggest event that Azerbaijan has EVER hosted, and unless we host a FIFA World Cup or Olympics, we won't be able to top that. It is a huge thing for a country as small as ours and I don't care who brings it to us - whether it's Ell&Nikki or someone else. The significance of this event cannot be ignored. And its going to have a big impact on us and on our image. This is a reason enough to be happy for Azerbaijan if you love Azerbaijan, of course.


  24. @ N: I think you have some fair points here. So I am not going to argue. You have to understand, that Eurovision is not respected or considered anything significant in this country, and I never watched it or even heard of it before I moved here, either. So my knowledge of just how influential or huge it really is is probably quite limited. I hope it does have a good impact, and I already said that. BUT. Eurovision still sucks, and NIkki can't sing, so I don't know what was wrong with what I said, you seem to agree. :))

  25. @Anonymous-ian, I've already briefly explained why this could potentially shift NATO's attention towards Iran's ethnic minorities and in fact it already has.

    @All the Armenian-Anonymous, what's wrong with you people? Is hatred all you know? It's not healthy to be angry all the time you know, wrinkles and such.

    @Scary, I never said I wouldn't talk anymore. I've made it clear however that I was disillusioned and would no longer attempt to have serious discussions as they proved fruitless.
    As for the gap between rich and poor increasing, that's a relative gap. It doesn't mean the 'poor' are actually worse off. In fact, as any right-winged politician will argue (read: Thatcher), such statistics are misleading and actually mean everyone's standard of living has gone up. Which is, considering the high economic growth of the country, very likely.

  26. Here is an interesting article in the Guardian today. Thought I'd share.

    Eurovision can transform Azerbaijan

  27. By the way, forgot to ask...what was it with the turkish flag, I totally missed it. was it the fact that Nigyar was holding it at the end of the show? Or did I miss something else?

  28. The Turkish flag was either a mistake, or smart politics.
    Note that the guy (what's his name) made the grey wolf symbol, the Turkish flag could be part of that symbolism.

    About not being Azeri enough. It's not that you're not Azeri enough, it's that you're not Azeri at all. This is not meant as an insult or anything, just sociology dictating.

    Mind if I ask you what makes you think you're Azeri? I'm going to write my next blog about ethnicity and identity and would like to use it for future reference.

  29. @ Kaweh:
    "I was disillusioned and would no longer attempt to have serious discussions... It's not that you're not Azeri enough, it's that you're not Azeri at all."

    Kaweh, taking you seriously is like taking seriously a man in a tinfoil hat. Take off the hat! Scary has more than once talked about her ethnic origins:

    "I always referred to myself as a 'metiska'- a person of mixed bloods. Which, in my case meant Tatar (you probably have no clue what that is, do you?*) Azeri, Jewish and even a bit of German all mixed up in one."

    This is the very essence of Azerbaijan, not at the superficial levels of culture or linguistics, but genetically:

    "the Caucasian Azeris are a mixed population with relationships, in order of greatest similarity, with the Caucasus, Iranians and Near Easterners, Europeans, and Turkmen."

  30. Not going to take the petty trollbait insults serious mate, try harder.

    As for ethnicity, you seem to confuse it with genetics and 'race'. Outdated theories. You've expressed your ignorance towards the social sciences before, so I won't put any effort into explaining it to you.
    I will however say this, ethnicity is overwhelmingly determined by first language, genetics have nothing to do with it. If you want to know more read my upcoming blog about it. If not, pipe down.

    @Scary, my question still stands. What makes you call yourself Azeri, what makes you identify yourself as such? I'll repeat, this is not an attempted insult. It's a serious question and I'm seriously interested in the answer.

  31. @Kaweh:

    "An ethnic group (or ethnicity) is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture (often including a shared religion) and an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy.[1][2][3] " general it is a highly biologically self-perpetuating group sharing an interest in a homeland connected with a specific geographical area, a common language and traditions, including food preferences, and a common religious faith".[4]"

    I have just cut and pasted this for you, in case you needed it.

    If you dismiss me as non- Azeri because I speak Russian, then you've automatically just dismissed a HUGE chunk of my (and a few older) generations of Azeri people from back home, who speak Russian due to circumstances and history. Your knowledge of what Azerbaijan was like, and what people like me are like is simply non-existent.

    Also, after your previous personal attacks, you should not be surprised I am not prepared to spend any time helping you self-promote your blog here. You really expect me to go into this debate with you? “Disillusion” is pretty mutual, I am afraid.

    I wish you luck in your blogging attempts. I am sure even without mentioning it in every comment on this blog, you will have enough supporters of your ideology.

  32. It's not me who dismisses you as a non-Azeri, it's science. If that huge chunk of generations of people from the Azerbaijan SSR didn't speak Azeri, then I'm sorry to tell you but they too weren't Azeri.

    Sorry, I can't take anyone using wikipedia as a source seriously.

    I do not want to have a debate with you, as I've said I've come to realize there is no point. I asked a simple question, that's it.

    I do not have an ideology.

    Here's a question for you to ponder on: If a French person moves to Japan, doesn't speak the language but calls himself Japanes. Is he now Japanese?

    Lol'd at promoting my blog. I write my blog for a small group of friends and academic circles. I happened to have mentioned in this blog because it was this specific blog that inspired me to write it.

  33. @Kaweh: "If a French person moves to Japan, doesn't speak the language but calls himself Japanes. Is he now Japanese?"

    Are you serious? Oh, my....Okay. I am bored now.

  34. @ Scary: I'm surprised at how much controversy your post has created. Maybe in retrospect I shouldn't be, but I can't help but wonder about Azeris who don't care for Eurovision while living in Azerbaijan. I mean, there are Brits who don't care about the royal couple, and Americans who can't stand Budweiser. Do the Azeris who hate Eurovision all have to go to secret meetings to vent their spleen and sing karaoke in safety?

    @ Kaweh: I wasn't baiting you; you've never needed an excuse to rave inanely. Why don't you go find some actual friends?

  35. @Mark: I was surprised at the number of supporting comments, myself. I expected a lot more anger and blame. On Facebook it is actually depressing to see. Like some sort of a massive epidemic collective brain damage. People are posting ridiculous status updates, and other people commenting along.... I am not even going to go into details; it is too sad and embarrassing. So no, if anyone does not think Az just conquered the world, they will keep very, very quiet.

  36. Back to petty insults I see. The universal sign of incapability to debate. Let me know when you have something to say.

  37. @Kaweh: You remind me of the azeri nationalists who briefly took control of the government in the early 90-s. They, too, dismissed people who weren't fluent in the azeri language. When I say dismissed, I mean this literally, not figuratively: scores of professionals were fired and replaced by "true" azeris. It took just a couple of years for the nationalist government to fail miserably. Their leader (President of the country) had to flee to his native village, paving the way for the former KGB chief to come back to power.

    I guess the moral is that gadfly bloggers such as yourself will never politically succeed in the real world.

  38. What I remind you of is of little interest to me. The reasons for Elçibay's short lived presidency are many, his attempts of putting power back in the hands of Azeri Turks however, had very little to do with it.
    Let's not selectively read history.

    Do us both a favor and don't try and predict the future regarding my career. In fact, I'd suggest staying clear from fortune telling altogether.

    Also, I don't dismiss anyone because they're not fluent in a language, I'm simply applying elementary truims of social science. One doesn't adopt an ethnicity just by living in a certain area. If you don't understand this it means you either don't understand the definition of ethnicity, or simply don't want to apply it properly because it doesn't suit you for whatever reason.

  39. @Kaweh: Okay. Seriously now, without any more personal insults (if you are capable of having a discussion without them. Why not try it yourself first, maybe then others would treat you the same way?)

    Your argument made no sense, starting from the French guy moving to Japan example you brought up before. I am not even going to try to explain to you why it had no logical relevance to the cases like mine. Of course one does not “adopt an ethnicity just by living” (or moving!) somewhere. But to claim that you can determine one’s ethnicity based on their first language alone... seems very ignorant to me.

    Look. Today, I was watching an old dvd my mother brought for me from Baku, to show my child. In it, I was dancing at a concert with our university dancing group. I was the lead dancer for “Sari Gelin”. Do you know it? And it reminded me just how engaged I was in it, how beautiful the music sounded to me, how I felt every movement, and what it meant. That to me is just one of many factors of belonging to a culture, or an ethnic group. The reason I cut and copied the wiki explanation to you earlier was simply because it made more logical sense than the one you proposed. Anyway, why don’t you take this discussion to your academic circle of smart friends, if you get so easily irritated by people here with their lack of understanding and knowledge?

  40. @ Kaweh,

    I think that what you are faliing to understand is that Azeries, in a whole, are Not a homogenous group. I suppose you already know that there is a long list of ethnic minorities that include Jews, Crimean Tatars, Armenians, Russians, Caucasus Germans, Iranians, Talysh people, Lezgins, Georgians, Udins, and Avars, etc.

    And this huge list has to do with the facts of historical, geographical, economic backgrounds of the country.

    So, you can't understand just who an Azeri is, until you accept that there is no such thing as one and true Azeri "blood" or "origin".

    An Azeri is anyone who was born in Azerbaijan, or has become a citizen of the country. That's all.


  41. Why do I always end up writing so much more than I set out to do...
    Anyway I split my reply in 2 parts, was afraid it would get 404'd again.

    Part one:

    One may identify with a certain ethnicity, religion, State etc. However, this is not the same as ethnicity, which is overwhelmingly determined by first language. I'm not making this stuff up you know, it's long been studied and well documented.

    I'll give an example:
    As I've explained before, Iran is pursuing a forceful assimilation policy by making everyone speak Farsi etc. The result is that it's much better career-wise to teach the second generation of Azeri's just Farsi as their first language instead of Azeri. These children grow up speaking Farsi, not knowing a single word in Azeri.
    Now, what is the effect? If you ask them what their ethnicity is, guess what they'll tell you? ''I am Fars, my parents may have been (degenerate) Turks, but I am Farsi now!''.

    You see, making people speak a language works exactly the same way as converting people to a religion does. Once they're converted they belong to your group. It's exactly why fascist and other authoritarian regimes throughout the world always enforce ONE particular language.
    It happened in Spain under Franco, it's happening in China now, it's happened during the USSR though much subtler and less effective, It's happening right now in Iran and even Turkey (Kurds) as well as Azerbaijan (Talysh), the list goes on and on. Why do you think the Irish speak English? Not a long time ago only 15% of France actually spoke French.
    States are powercentre's, they always need uniformity and usually enforce it. A group of people can be controlled much easier if they're all the same religion wise, linguistically etc. If the Irish were protestant, you think they'd still be fighting? If the Kurds had become Turks, would they still be fighting? No, that's the importance of language. Not even religion is as defining as language is.

  42. Part two:

    Naturally, there are sub ethnicities. So within German ethnicity there can be protestant and catholics, there can be towns and villages with their own identity and art/culture. However, the main factor in determining ethnicity is language. If you don't speak a certain language at all, you really don't belong to the ethnicity.

    In your case you may identify yourself as Azeri because you've been raised there and are influenced by the culture and so on. However, my guess is that you've always felt a bit different from mainstream Azerbaijani's, perhaps a bit superior, and that you've never quite understood all the nationalist sentiment and so on. This would've been quite different if you spoke Azeri as your first language for reasons explained above.

    As I've understood from Mark's copy/paste you identified yourself as a Russian speaking jew who grew up in Soviet Azerbaijan. This makes you a (former?) Azerbaijani citizen, yes. Azeri ethnicity? No.

    You may disagree because you FEEL Azeri, you may IDENTIFY yourself as such. I'm afraid however this doesn't fit the criteria of ethnicity. Your criticism of Azerbaijan goes well beyond the norm, even surpassing those of Iranian sell-outs who desperately try to be accepted by 'The West'. Yours borders hatred, you probably hated the country growing up, you hated the backward people speaking a language you didn't understand and most importantly, you probably felt alienated from them. This explains your attitude, and believe me you're no exception.

    I've never once in my life looked down on someone because they knew less than I did, or were less fortunate. In fact, if you'd know me you'd know I'm the exact opposite. I dedicate quite a bit of my time attempting to give a voice to the voiceless. The only people I look down on, are people who look down on others.
    I get irritated when people who actually do know less about a certain subject refuse to listen or admit they were wrong. Yes, that's when I get irritated and I think that's justified. If I appeared elitist, it's because of these reasons.

  43. @Kaweh: A Russian speaking Jew who grew up in Soviet Azerbaijan??? LOL Where the hell did you get this from? This is just bizarre. Anyway, look.

    I don’t know what the real reason for you trolling my blog is, but what you are doing is trolling- big time. I tried on a number of occasions to have a reasonable discussion with you, but you keep turning it around to make it into a personal attack. I am not quite sure why. You might be full of issues being an Iranian Azeri, perhaps you were brought up hating people like me? Maybe I represent something you loathed all your life; or in fact, you just assume I am a certain type you think you know soooo well. Whereas, in reality, you have never even met people like me. The scary thing about you, Kaweh, is that a lot of what you say makes sense- until you suddenly go off in some obsessive weird direction. That is actually quite worrying.

    I am simply what I am. I am not Jewish; I am definitely not Russian, even though I feel close to their culture because of the Soviet upbringing, but so do millions of other ex-soviets of many nationalities. I don’t really care if you think what I say here is full of hatred. If you read this blog properly, without what appears to be clear prejudice, you would see that is really not the case. Mocking some cultural or other things in life is simply my style, and I mock the UK, the religion, stupid people (of any nationality) and lots of other things. Extreme sensitivity to any form of criticism is very common amongst Muslim cultures. I am not quite sure where it comes from, but I noticed it being a common problem. I was just told I was probably Armenian on Facebook, just because I have put a funny photo of a Muslim wedding on scaryazeri page. Not even an Azeri wedding! I

    You recently made an assumption I was full of “racial contempt for African Muslims”- that one was yet, your very best. You concluded that from me simply questioning your facts. So, look. I really, honestly tried. But from now on, I am not going to answer any of your questions, please do not bother harassing me again. As for the ethnicity, I tried to explain, but you, as always, determined you are right and everyone else who might think differently is just stupid. Most importantly, I don’t really care if you think I am ethnically Armenian or Jewish, or whatever else. Neither do I even wonder if you are a proper Azeri, have you noticed? Who cares? I certainly don’t.

  44. Code name ELNUR:)18 May 2011 at 22:59

    pork eating, atheist, poor azeri... embarrased to be who she is... living like this must be humilating.... Im sure that you seriously would like to born as english or french or someone else... ( im so sorry cos i was so rude but what you wrote about azerbaijan and azeris made me angry:(

  45. @Elnur: Oh, dont worry. Kaweh already covered the pork eating aspect, and the rude aspect. So you are okay. It is all cool. Sorry you got upset.

    You know, what you and some other people don't get, is that speaking about something you dislike does not automatically mean you hate the whole package. There are things I love and will always respect in Azerbaijan. Just like in the UK. And there are plenty of things- and people- who I really don't like- again, not just in azerbaijan. Speaking of something you dislike is not that common yet back home. But it will come. and then you will understand it does not always mean hate. Sometimes it means wanting things to get better.

  46. Code name ELNUR:)19 May 2011 at 00:37

    that was the missing part of my comment...why you just dont want something to get better but you hate... and i got the answer 10x... Im teacher in Azerbaijan and you know genes of this nation is so rich. but they are not lucky as others like english turks or russion etc.. there are many reasons... historically always had to be someones slave... ofcourse this country is not country of my dreams.. i feel very very uncomfortable here... but it has to be change me and other young people have to do something im sure it will happen now or later... instead of abusing the darkness lighten an candle:) and dont tell others that we are in so bad situation:)

  47. Hi Elnur,
    Well, before cursing the darkness you have to actually realize it is dark, and to me this is what Scary does :)
    (I mean that if you have lived in the darkness all your lifen then you can't imagine that it could be otherwise)
    Good luck, if you do something then it will certainly change!
    The passer-by

  48. I was hanging out in Sabirabad when it happened - not a peep about the news. Definitely a Baku phenomenon. Keep up the good work.

  49. "So no, if anyone does not think Az just conquered the world, they will keep very, very quiet."

    Scary, this gives me mixed feelings. On the one hand I want to applaud the Azeri sense of communalism, of being "in this together," of having shared roots and a shared destiny. This is something critical that I think the West lacks.

    Yet, having watched Azerbaijan's Eurovision entry, it really was bad. Not laughably awful, but worse than most of what I hear surfing through stations on the radio. That Azeris would be proud to win with this entry indicates that Azeris don't have any interest in accomplishment or aesthetics, just winning. But what does winning even mean, if winning comes without merit?

    Seeing your Azeriness called into question also makes me wonder what Azeriness is. Every people has a different sense of itself, typically drawing on a mixture of heritage, language, place of birth or current residence, diet or dress, and patriotism. For the Anglosphere, being in the club basically means speaking English, living legally within the national borders, and, preferably, owning a t-shirt and pair of jeans. How do Azeris decide who is one and who isn't? It seems very different. Is it mostly about heritage and patriotism in Azerbaijan?

  50. @Mark: I have decided the explanation deserves a proper posting, so see the latest. :) I still cant believe these things even need explaining. But this is the last time I try. If it does not get through, I will just forget it. :))

  51. I agree with every single word in your post :) thanks.

  52. I like your entries so much , Scary :) keep going :) you are really lucky that you are not in Azerbaijan around the people obsessed with Eurovision madness , after the winning the I didn't go out for like two or three days just not to see this euphoric crowd.
    But you know ,I'm trying to be optimistic (because we have enough misery in this country )and hope this this winning will finally bring something good to this country.

  53. Dear Scary Azeri, I found your blog through the "Goddess of Azeri Cuisine" you interviewed recently, who was a good friend of mine (still is) when she lived in Azerbaijan. I loved your posts, all of them, at least those I could manage to read. I am thrilled. What a sensitive, sophisticated nature. Please keep on posting and enriching our minds with unconventional approches of yours. God Bless You (I hope you won't mind it having been aetheist).

    With regards to the Eurovision Contest, I wholeheartdetly agree with you, it is a tastless music event, however, I am one of those who wants to believe it can bring some benefits along with the associated huge costs. Recenly I have hosted a Norwegian family with two kids for a week in Baku. You wouldn’t believe how different was their idea about Azerbaijan the day they came and by the end of their trip. They were amased for a such small sized country how much we have to offer. At the moment, the people, who know about the existence of Azerbaijan associate it with Corruption and Human rights issue only, refretfully. That was the case with this family. They thought it was so bad that if we critisize some officials, system, etc. we would be reported immediately, imprisioned and tortured. Therefore, I believe that Eurovision Contest will show at least 20.000 people (let the majority of it be gay couples) that there is lot more to be associated with, and it is not soooo bad here, and we don’t need to be sympathised, really. And later, the word of a mouth will keep doing its job.

    For a person residing in a country like Britain for that long, the need to prove something will not be as srtong as those still living here, and if the free expression of your critisizm the way you do without any censorship will seem to you as a normal disagreement with something that you really care (you wouldn’t criticize otherwise), it does seem to be very insulting and humiliating to other people. It is like, you calling the current mass reaction to Euroviosion contest and absolute intolerance to critisizm as “mass brain damage”. Believe me, we have to grow out if it, give us some time, let us raise our self-esteem and wellfare, then we won’t really care what other nations think of us!!! Only then we will not take the Eurovision contest seriously!!

    I will keep following your posts!!

  54. @Anonymous: Thank you, and thanks for taking your time to send me this comment. You do explain the mentality pretty well. Hope to hear from you again.

  55. I am thrilled that Azerbaijan has won,so did my children whose father is not Azeri and living in UK. There are problems in every country, even developed ones have more than we have.I think you should write something positive about our nation and country.

  56. Azeris have a lot to be proud of, sadly they dont know where the real value is, and go for things that have no taste. They almost won two gold medals at the Olympics,too- I am sure you heard of that on the British news. I am personally not sure if the Eurovision victory was based on pure talent of the singers. But you are welcome to be thrilled if you think it is a big achievement.

  57. Many people don't know where Azerbaijan is and they can't even pronounce the word.I think it is a big opportunity for Azerbaijan to get itself noticed and recognised.I don't like the song or the performance,but very curious to see how Baku will host the event.When it comes to Eurovision it is a total crap,based on political voting not on genuine talent.

  58. Eurovision's Dirty Secret will be shown tomorrow 21 May on BBC one at 20:30.

    And indeed Azerbaijan's victory was arranged by aliyev klan.

  59. I was not going to write any comments to this to be honest, because …will spell it in Russian… ‘ustal dokazivat, chto mi ne verbludi, a normalniye ludi, normalniy narod s ego problemami i kajdodnevnimi zabotami’… But in any case, will try to explain my position…..
    Why I’m proud to be Azeri? I’m proud because my country has established the first democratic country in the East back in 1918. We are the first in the East who gave woman right to vote and participate in all aspects of political and social life of the country; first time in the East the opera came form Azerbaijani composer Uzeyir Hajibekov; in 1918 we were the nation full of free will people who helped to build so many buildings in Baku and other regions, many people have been educated in and outside of the country for the money of oil barons…. After independency in 1991… we have been able to save country’s independency and strengthen it for the last 20 years; we have been able to take ownership of our own natural reserves, unlike some other countries around us. We are the first country in the former Soviet Union elected as non-permanent member of UN Security Council (where 155 countries have given their votes in favour of Azerbaijan).
    And yes, I’m proud that we won the ESC, why shouldn’t be I? And more… we have hosted the ESC to the highest level ever seen in history of ESC (not my words). If you think that this victory has been somehow arranged, then this means the ESC and Eurovision TV, or whatever it is, is corrupted organization… Haaaa, really? Is this possible in Europe???
    God, be careful with what you are saying, it is not Azerbaijan you are talking about.
    By the way, Olympics in London is about to start… Would you like to have your critic touch to the security bust which they are going through? Or may be how many people who are renting houses are forced to vacate to accommodate Olympic participants and make money on this? Poor students (who are already suffering from high education fees and we saw the riots back in summer 2010 (if I’m not wrong with date) and now have to pay almost triple price of what they have originally agreed to pay when signing lease/rent contract. You won’t write about these things, because it is not related to Azerbaijan… and you might well argue that this is Scary Azeri blog spot and has nothing to with other countries.
    And where is ‘Panorama’? What they have prepared just before ESC in Baku is complete bull shit – no single evidence. My favourite part is when that journalist is ‘’running’’ away from the ‘’spy’’ who following him…. Hahaha.. That was hilarious.
    We do have problems, but those problems are present in every single country in the world, even in most developed countries. I can bring 100s of examples… Poverty in Azerbaijan back in 2003 was 49%... Now this number is reduced to 9% and decreasing further… I’m sure you are well aware of how many work places have been created for the last 6-7 years….
    I do not have any relations with Azeri government nor do any of my relatives hold high in governmental organizations. I do not call myself patriot because I’ve done so little to the country and to me patriot is someone who has done much more. To me the patriots are those who were fighting for their country, who died in the name of independency, people who are getting gold medals and razing Azeri flag, and people who work to make this country strong. I’ve done nothing of these…..

    All the best, Firuz S.

    1. Hi Firuz, and thanks for this. You spoke here about things to be proud of, but those are the things i myself feel proud of. So i am confused why you are arguing here. Because, i was just saying( did you even read it or just saw the heading and attacked me?) That we have a lot more real important things to be proud of. Only eurovision is not something to be pround of! In my opinion. As for me trashing the uk-please read more posts and you will see i trash anyone i fancy trashing. The reason i am ot talking about security etc during the olympics is because i am so far away from england right now, it someow did not bother me enough to talk about. Uk has a lot of problems right now, nothing new.

    2. Hi scaryazeri. Please do not accept my comments as an attack. I would never ever do it towards my ''zemlyak/chka''. Absolutely agree with you that there are much more to be proud of.. and our victory in ESC is one of them... May be not that important as others, but still...

      Very best to you.
      Firuz S.

  60. I can say the same reading your posts, scary: "Finally proud to be Azeri". This is the fifth or sixth post I am reading, and I have to admit I take my hat off to you! Glad to see that there are intelligent, rationale and objective Azeri people out there who do not live according to the principle "My shit does not stink". Too bad they all are out! But hey, judging by the comments those "patriots" leave under your posts, they deserve every tiny bit of what is happening to them. You go, girl!

  61. Perhaps the following article will shed some light on the mascaraed of the absurd.

  62. the use of force and its human and moral costs in a dangerous world, particularly the absence of justice, security and peace in the Holy Land and throughout the Middle East." upland plumbing