Ombudsman Focused on Intolerance of the Union of Orthodox Parents in His Report
The Public Defender focused on the intolerance of the Union of Orthodox Parents in his report; he described several facts of intolerance committed by the Union members.
More precisely, on September 16, 2009 a group of 50-70 orthodox believers arrived in the village of Talaveri in Bolnisi district, mostly inhabited by Azeri Muslim people; they were led by the Union of the Orthodox Parents and clergymen and demanded the villagers to stop the reconstruction of the ruins of the mosque in the village.
Simultaneously, they used xenophobic rhetoric against Azeri Muslim people and called them guests in Georgia. As a result of their demand, according to the Public Defender, the Muslims stopped reconstruction of the mosque; the members of the orthodox group started picketing in front of the mosque.
“It is noteworthy to mention that the local residents state that they received oral notification on the reconstruction of the mosque. However, they do not hold corresponding administrative-legal act issued in accordance to the law which could be a legal basis for the reconstruction. In parallel to it, it is noteworthy, only the state has the right to stop reconstruction and not any religious union,” stated the report of the public defender.
The report also covers the education conference on the Muslim issues organized in the Ilia State University by the International Center on Conflicts and Negotiation on December 10, 2009. The members of the Union of Orthodox Parents attended the conference and were very aggressive towards other attendees and did not allow the organizers to finish the discussion part of the conference.
According to the Public Defender’s Office, in the report period, the Catholic parish also became a victim of the intolerance of the Union members. More precisely, on October 6 and 7 in 2009, about 60 people went to the village of Arali and small town of Vale in Adigeni district where the majority of population is Catholic.
The group organized by the Union was led by clergymen. They distributed leaflets full of hatred, slander, and anti-catholic statements; they alleged that catholic priests working in Georgia were pedophiles and abused children; they called upon the catholic population to protect their children from priests.
On October 15, 2009, one-day manifestation was organized in front of the Vatican Embassy in Tbilisi. The demonstrators had banners with xenophobic expressions insulting Catholic people.
As for the third fact, on October 17, 2009 a Syrian Culture Center was opened in Kavtaradze Street in Tbilisi and part of it is a temple of Syrian Catholic people.
In accordance to the Public Defender’s report, on the day the center was opened, the Union of Orthodox Parents blocked the entrance to the temple for short time. They had anti-catholic xenophobic banners. They left the area after the patrol police interfered in the incident when the opening ceremony was due to start. Catholic priests were invited from foreign countries to attend the ceremony as well as Syria-Kaldewei Patriarch and representatives of the diplomatic corps in Georgia were invited to the event. The report also states that the members of the Union blocked the entrance to the Center the next day but for a short time.
“Similar intolerance is unacceptable for liberal and pluralist society whose existence and development is based on religious tolerance,” stated the report of the second half of 2009. The report was submitted to the parliament and it will be discussed at the bureau session tomorrow.
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