Religious intolerance

Patriarchate on “certain forces stirring religious discord”

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Georgian Patriarchate issued a special statement on 27 August following the removal of a minaret from a mosque in the village of Chela. The patriarchate said that some of the statements made after the dismantling of the minaret make an impression that "certain forces want to portray this as a humiliation of religious feelings, violation of muslims' rights and they are encouraging this mood among ordinary people following islam."

"We address muslim Georgians of the village of Chela, as well as Georgian and non-Georgian residents of Georgia's towns and villages, our blood and flesh: we are the children of the country, where even centuries ago, when our nation was resisting invasion of various muslim countries, it did not reflect on the muslims living in Georgia and even in those times they did not feel any pressure. Thanks God, the relations are now on a higher level and we should preserve this," the statement reads.

The Patriarchate described the events around the removal of minaret in the village of Chela as an attempt to "stir discord on religious grounds." The Patriarchate has previously spoken about "certain forces" allegedly attempting to confront christian and muslim population in Georgia to discredit the state and the church in the country. "We request muslim religious leaders living in Georgia not to encourage but, on the contrary, to resist provocative actions, like those in Adigeni, as well as in any other place in Georgia. Now the position of your parish on abiding the law, state interests and religious feelings depends on you. We have always been trying to strengthen good attitude we have towards the muslim religious leaders and the muslim population in Georgia, as well as with our neighbouring muslim countries and their religious leaders. Finding out real reasons of what happened [in the village of Chela] is one of the preconditions for this, as well as revealing the perpetrators of illegal actions and the persons interested in exacerbating the situation. Relevant legislative base should be created so that everyone knows the limits of their actions in order to prevent escalation of confrontation on religious grounds," the statement says.

The Patriarchate did not specify the term "certain forces" mentioned in the statement. Speaking to Tabula, press speaker of the Patriarchate, father Davit Sharashenidze said he was not authorized to make any clarifications.

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