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PM condemns hate crime

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, September 12
Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili reassured the public that the government of Georgia will not allow anyone to incite religious conflict and instability in the country.

On September 10 a group of locals in the town of Kobuleti in the Adjara region,who oppose the opening of a Muslim school in their neighborhood, slaughtered a pig at the entrance of the building intended for the school and nailed a pig’s head to the door.

The head of the Muslim Department of Georgia, Mufti Jemal Paksadze, appealed to the government to urgently respond and condemn this hate crime in order to avert a confrontation within the country based on religion.

“We are deeply offended. This is a very bad incident. This is a huge insult to Muslims,” Paksadze said, adding that the Muslim population has never faced such a hate crime in Georgia.

Gharibashvili strongly condemned the incident stating that the incident was an attempt to incite conflict between representatives of different religions within the country.

“The government will always resist such attempts. Insulting faith is totally unacceptable to everyone, including Orthodox Christians. Georgia has always been known as a tolerant country, where the representatives of all religions have always been respected,” the PM said.

He called on law- enforcement agencies to immediately investigate the incident and bring to justice all those who participated in the hate crime.

According to the Interior Ministry, an investigation has been opened and the case is being treated as a criminal threat.

The three-story building intended to house a school is owned by a Turkish citizen and is administered by the organization Georgian Muslim Relations. Shamil Kakaladze, from the organization, says that prior to this incident there were threats from locals to not to open the school.

Locals state that there are no Muslim residents in the neighborhood and there was no need for such a school.

Head of the Kobuleti municipality Sulkhan Evgenidze has stated that the locals were misled initially, as they were told that the building would be used for local Georgian families. He also stated that the school has not obtained any official license yet.

The Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association, Georgian Democracy Initiative, Georgia's Reform Associates and other NGOs, stated that such incidents are the result of the current government’s “inefficient and inadequate” reaction to such cases.

The organizations asked law-enforcement investigate the case immediately, and appealed to the government to undertake a reasonable policy in order to mitigate any future hate crimes in the country.