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The News in Brief

Monday, November 23
‘Islam Is Not Terrorism’ rally in Tbilisi attracts few participants

A small group of activists protested against equating Islam with terrorism in the wake of Paris terrorist attacks.

Ten activists gathered in front of the old parliament building in Tbilisi on 18 November for an ‘Islam Is Not Terrorism’ rally.

The activists held posters saying ‘Terrorism has no religion’, ‘Pray for Syria’, ‘Pray for Africa’, and ‘ISIS is not Islam’, among others.

The rally follows a larger gathering on 14 November, when up to 200 people commemorated the victims of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and expressed their solidarity with France.

‘We gathered here to remind everyone that religion isn’t connected to terrorism. Georgia is a multicultural state where people of different religions live. We won’t achieve anything by stigmatising religions. We condemn terrorism, but not religion, which has, as such, little to do with terrorism,' Grigol Gegelia, one of the event’s organisers, told DF Watch.

‘Our aim is to show to the world that Islam doesn’t equal terrorism. Religion doesn’t preach violence, but all of us should fight terrorism and violence in its all forms. It is important to separate a man who commits terrorist acts from their religion,' Irakli Tedoradze from the International Council of Economics and Law said.
(DF watch)

Georgian Defence Minister to West: Talk to Russia Without Forgetting Partners

The West should have a “clearly defined agenda” that would also reflect the interests of its partner nations like Georgia and Ukraine when talking with Russia over possible partnership in fighting terrorism or solving problems in Syria, Georgia’s Defense Minister Tina Khidasheli said.

She said that it won’t work if in that process the West chooses to “forget” differences with Russia, including those over Ukraine and Georgia.

Speaking at a panel discussion at the Halifax international security forum in Canada, Khidasheli also stressed that she disagrees with the notion that the U.S. or Europe are “abandoning” their partners, being it Georgia, Ukraine or others – a view, which she said, became “popular” by images of the U.S. President Barack Obama and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin speaking in a “friendly” way on the sideline of the G20 summit in Antalya.

“I don’t think it’s abandonment, but what is missing from the picture is that we can talk and cut whatever deals are possible with Russia, but as long as it is not accompanied with a very positive, clearly defined agenda towards those countries, which have been [the West’s] partners over the years, then we are missing something important from the picture,” she said.

She said that it is possible to fight terrorism and at the same time to “expand the free world” – the two should be done simultaneously, she said, “otherwise it sends a very wrong message to Moscow”.

“What we are saying is: talk to the Russians, try to get as much outcome as possible from those talks, but at the same time prove to the Russians that you have your own agenda towards the countries that Russia is so obsessed about; expand the free world,” she said.

She said that such an approach will be a clear message to Russia that “it is not a desperate position of the West to have Russia on board” in tackling global challenges and threats, including terrorism.

“If today we say that the world cannot deal with the problem in Syria without Russia – as we hear from many European leaders – it strengthens Moscow… for them [the Russians] it is a green light, an open invitation that there will be no solution to any troubles in the world without Russia…that’s the wrong message for the type of leadership that is in Moscow,” the Georgian Defense Minister said.