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Georgia’s Patriarchate Calls for Religious Feelings Protection

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, March 23
The Patriarchate of Georgia has expressed concern over the recent joke by an opposition-minded Rustavi 2 TV journalist, Giorgi Gabunia about Jesus Christ, and called on the state for protection of “religious feelings” in the country.

The Georgian Orthodox Church also criticized Georgian brand of condoms AIISA, some of them wrapped in prints of Georgian King and Saint Tamar.

The Patriarchate believes Gabunia and AIISA insulted the religious feelings, calling their actions “blasphemy.”

According to the AIISA webpage, their condoms are conceptual, depicting prints of various famous persons, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Stalin, Adam and Eva and many quotes from Georgia’s famous poem- The Knight in the Panther’s Skin, written in the era of King Tamar.

As for Gabunia, he stated on March 20 that “Jesus should have come in Georgia’s Adjara region now as there would be no trees left for his crucifixion,” referring to cutting of trees in the region “to please” the Georgian Dream ruling party founder, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili.

Gabunia’s statement was followed by a large-scale protest rally on March 19, from the ultra-nationalist group Georgian March and the Orthodox Mothers’ Union who appeared at Rustavi 2 headquarters early on Monday and injured Rustavi 2 journalist, while sieging a car with Gabunia and Rustavi 2 lawyer Tamta Muradashvili inside it.

The patriarchate stated they distance themselves from any expression of violence.

"We do not support violent actions. In addition, we demand a sharp reaction from the authorities to the incident at Rustavi 2,” the statement reads.

The statement also underscores that freedom of expression is one of the most valuable components of democracy and protection of human rights, adding this is “directly linked with responsibility and respect to protecting rights of the others.”

The police arrested 5 members of the Georgian March for abusing Rustavi 2 journalists. They face from 2 to 5 years of imprisonment.