Nizami Ramazanov is a rare beast in Azerbaijan: an animal rights activist.
An animal lover since he was a child, the 32-year-old Ramazanov recalls collecting signatures for a petition to the government to create animal shelters and protect animals’ rights, and one woman thought he was a panhandler. “Finally she dug into her bag, found a 20-gepik coin [about USD 0.12], and told me: ‘Take it and go away,’” he said with a laugh.
Azerbaijan does not have a long tradition of animal rights protection; its beleaguered activist community has its hands full defending the rights of its own species. But that is changing, and animal rights activism, no longer the sole province of individual animal lovers like Ramazanov, is becoming mainstream.
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