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Pashinyan Comments on Mob Demanding Censorship 

In his Facebook live video series called “Talks with the Citizen” Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan commented on the government’s enacted and pending decisions on removing “History of Religion” (in reality, history of Armenian Apostolic Church) as a mandatory curriculum in middle school, “Armenian Language and History” course from higher educational institutions and in general, issues related to teaching “History of Armenian People”. In his Facebook live talk Pashinyan also reflected on “HuZANQ u ZANG” open-air performance of contemporary dance and futuristic poetry disrupted by a conservative  mob on November 2. The artists were attacked during the performance by a group fighting against the Istanbul Convention on Combating Domestic Violence and the alleged perversion of the Armenian nation.

Pashinyan highlighted the importance of freethinking “outside the box” and condemned attempts to call all such thinkers “satanists.” He stated that demands to censor performances lead to inquisition, burning people on fires simply because they “do not believe in certain forces in the right way.” He also spoke of censorship during the Soviet times, the censored poems of renowned Armenian poet Yeghishe Charents. He emphasized that because Charents wrote on unconventional topics, including sexuality, it does not mean that his books can be burnt, that anyone speaking of these aspects of Charents’ works are “anti-nation” or “satanistic.”

He concluded that the dream of Armenians building their country cannot be driven by suppression of free thought. Times for burning people for claiming that the Earth is round are long gone, we need to be a country where the right to freely think is respected, as are respected many other rights. “People have differing thoughts, including on political, religious, scientific, esthetic issues, we need to respect those.” He warned that the concept of freedom brought by the revolution was being abused by certain forces in order to establish narrowmindedness which he defined as “this much of knowledge of the world and unwillingness to learn more because learning more will change their perceptions of the world.” He concluded with a joke that back in early 90s a lot of people in Armenia thought that “Zhigouli 06” car was the most reliable, comfortable and best car in the world and it would have been a suicide to argue the opposite. By mid-90s, this opinion changed among many, including himself, Nikol Pashinyan.