Dr. Naira Sahakyan
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Dr. Naira Sahakyan Published in Yearbook of Muslims in Europe

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YEREVAN, Armenia — American University of Armenia Assistant Professor Dr. Naira Sahakyan has published a new study, co-authored with Yerevan State University Assistant Professor Dr. Sevak Karamyan, in leading international academic publisher Brill’s Scopus-indexed Yearbook of Muslims in Europe (Volume 15) journal

The Yearbook of Muslims in Europe is an essential resource for analysis of Europe’s dynamic Muslim populations. Featuring up-to-date research from forty-six European countries including Armenia, the reports provide cumulative knowledge of ongoing trends and developments around Muslims in different European countries. 

Dr. Sahakyan’s research covers public debates, transnational links, legal or political changes, and activities and initiatives of Muslims from Armenia. The article first examines Islam’s long and complex history in Armenia. For centuries, Muslims have been a minority in the country, which has been a part of Islamic empires for an extended period of its existence. The arrival of Islam in Armenia can be traced back to the seventh century, when the Arab conquerors brought the religion to the region. However, even though Armenia was a part of the Arab Caliphate, Islam has never been the dominant religion in the country and has remained a minority religion throughout its history. Today, the majority of Muslims in Armenia are Iranians. 

The relationship between Muslims and Christians in Armenia has been complex, with periods of conflict and cooperation. Despite historical tensions, the two communities have coexisted peacefully in recent times, and the Armenian government guarantees freedom of religion to all its citizens, including Muslims. 

At the same time, the research demonstrates that the ongoing conflict with its two Muslim neighbors — Azerbaijan and Turkey— renders the discourse over Islam fairly complicated in Armenia. In 2022, the discourse surrounding Islam in Armenia continued to be intertwined with the ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, resulting in both Islam and Muslims being frequently mentioned in statements by Armenian political and religious leaders. The catalysts for the debates over Islam were Azerbaijan’s aggression against sovereign Armenian territory in September 2022, as well as Azerbaijani Muslim leaders’ signing of the “Regulation Establishing the Council of Heads of Muslim Religious Administrations of the OTS” (Organization of Turkic States) in the city of Shushi. 

Nevertheless, despite Azerbaijan’s efforts to portray Armenia as an anti-Islamic country, the cooperation of Armenia with various Muslim-populated countries and religious organizations demonstrates the respect and collaboration between Armenia and the Islamic world. 

At AUA, Dr. Sahakyan teaches courses in Armenian History, World History and Genocide Studies.

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate and graduate degree and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values.