Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani on 27 August commented on the removal of a minaret from the mosque in the village of Chela, adding that "sooner or later" the Georgian society "will have to discuss whether there should be minarets in the country."
"Sooner or later the Georgian society will have to discuss whether there should be minarets in our country. The topic of minarets should not be tabooed and Georgia should make a decision on this topic by involving all sides concerned. Conduct of prayers in the mosque does not depend on minarets. Prayers are not hindered in the mosque in the village of Chela," the Minister said.
Tsulukiani said that if custom officers failed to notice the goods at the customs office, they should be held accountable.
"However, as an orthodox Christian, I would be afraid to touch a minaret, even if it was constructed illegally. Adigeni municipality is still a realm of the National Movement, and UNM is used to aggression towards religious institutions. Illegal constructions, of course, should not be built. I would wish that instead of dismantling an already erected minaret, such issues were prevented," Tsulukiani said.
According to the Justice Minister, the minaret is undergoing an examination at the moment. Tsulukiani said that the forms of resistance to the police that took place in the village of Chela are "unacceptable."
"I would like to tell every muslim, and especially the muftis, that I would have been offended by everything that happened. However, I would like to say with regret that the muslim clerics allowed the erection of a minaret in one night without informing the local population and the local authorities. Construction of any buildings requires a different form of communication, however this form of dismantling is still unacceptable to me," Tsulukiani said.
The Minister did not specify why the muslim community had to inform the local population on changes applied to their religious premises when it is not actually required by the legislation.