Statement of Georgian Church concerning events in the village of Chela: “Fomenting religious strife”

Tbilisi, September 2, 2013

The Patriarchate of Georgia has made a statement concerning the events in the village of Chela, where the local residents protested against the return of a minaret that had been removed.

"Some statements made in connection with the events in the village of Chela of the Adigen district lead us to believe that certain forces wish to portray it as a violation of Muslims' rights, and are fomenting unrest among ordinary followers of Islam.

“We address the Georgian Muslims, our in flesh and blood, from the village of Chela, the Georgian Muslims and Muslims of non-Georgian origin from other cities and villages of Georgia. We are children of that country where many centuries ago, when our people repulsed invasions of different Muslim countries, this did not affect the Georgian Muslims who did not experience oppression even in such times. Glory be to God, today relations are on a higher level, and all of us must value these relations.

“What is happening today is an attempt to incite religious strife, like those processes that they tried to develop in Nigvziani, Cinckaro and Samtackaro. The purpose of this effort is to somehow cause a clash between the Christian and Muslim populations, to discredit the Church and the state by this and to realize their goals against this backdrop. For those who follow this phenomenon it is impossible not to see it.

We address the Muslim spiritual leaders who are living in Georgia with the request not only not to encourage these provocative actions, but also to oppose them—in Adigen as well as in other parts of Georgia. Today it all depends on you: the position of your flock regarding the law, the state interests and, of course, defense of religions.

“On our part, we have always striven and will not relax our efforts to strengthen these kind relations that we have not only with the Muslim leaders and the Muslim population in Georgia, but also with our neighboring Muslim countries and their spiritual leaders. And we consider that one requirement for this is an urgent investigation of the real reasons for these events, identification of those persons who committed the unlawful actions, and who are interested in aggravating events. At the same time an appropriate legislative base should be created, so that all would know the limits of their actions, so there will be no escalation of religious confrontation.

“By the Grace of the Most Holy Mother of God may the Lord bless Georgia and grant it peace".

On August 30, it became known that head of the Muslim Department of Georgia Jemal Paksadze was taken after a heart attack to the cardiology department of the "Medina" clinic in Khelvachauri (a town in the autonomous republic of Adjara). This was reported to the journalists by head of the Georgian Muslims Union Tariel Nakaidze.

According to him, the events happened in recent days, after the removal of the minaret in the village of Chela of the Adigen district (Samtskhe-Javakheti region, Southern Georgia). Supposedly this affected the Mufti's health and he suffered heart attack, reports Interfax-Religion.