The messenger logo

Cases of religious confrontation

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, December 11
Recently a very unusual phenomenon for Georgia took place – religious confrontation. First it took place in Guria region, in the village of Nigvziani and later, on November 30, in the Kartli region, in the village of Tzintzkaro. The current government expressed its utmost concern about the conflict and is offering both sides to settle the confrontation through dialogue and is hinting that the confrontation is aggravated by certain forces.

It is not worth mentioning that the confrontation took place between ethnic Georgians who only differ in religious faith. It is known that some Muslim Georgians from the Adjara region were resettled into different areas of Georgia because of the ecological problems in Adjara.

So these IDPs were settled among other Georgian communities mainly consisting of Orthodox Christians. For many years the communities lived together without any problems.

However, recently the problems appeared and the essence of this problem is the refusal of the Christian population to allow the Muslim population to build a mosque in the village. Christians claim that they have no objections if Muslims carry out prayers and perform religious rituals at their homes.

The problems were further aggravated by the fact that in the village of Tzintskaro, somebody damaged a Christian cross at the cemetery. Christians suspect that Muslims must have done it, though the latter denied the fact.

Some people suppose that somebody has deliberately done so to provoke unrest. The union of Georgian Muslims released a statement that intolerance towards the Muslim religion reached an unacceptable level.

The situation is evaluated by some as the collapse of Georgian democracy and human rights, which could damage Georgia’s international reputation. Human rights NGOs, as well as the public defender’s office have asked the state to take care of the problem and conduct radical interference.

So far the government has refrained from any kind of radical interference, not to aggravate the situation in the country further. However, Prime Minister Bidizna Ivanishvili highlighted in his special statement that all the cases concerning the issue should be investigated and illegal actions from the both sides must be punished. This is a shameful confrontation, he stated.

Analysts wonder why such facts have taken a place. Georgian Dream members think that this is the result of deliberate provocation aimed at discrediting Georgian democracy and statehood.MP Zakaria Kutsnashvili thinks there is information about the existence of a certain group encouraging such conduct. Maybe is a hint towards the United National Movement (UNM) or maybe not?

Meanwhile the chairman of the Georgian Muslims Union, Jemal Paksadze, recently stated that to receive high spiritual education, Georgian citizens go to Turkey. This is why he asks permission to establish a Madrasa in Georgia so that people interested in receiving Muslim education can do it in Georgia, thus Muslim leaders should be educated according to the Georgian ideology and spirit. Paksadze said there are around 800, 000 Muslims in Georgia and 300 mosques. Among them, 200 are Suni mosques and 100 are Shia.

It looks like Georgia is now facing extra problems. These problems may have existed during the former government as well. However, the demand and freedom of expression was then brutally suppressed. The current ruling party has taken a more liberal and democratic direction, therefore, the population has become more open; they can loudly discuss their problems. Protest rallies, strikes and similar actions have become visible.

Concerning the religious problems, Minister of Justice Tea Tsulukiani initiated that a special group should work on the problem to avoid any religions confrontation.