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Georgian tolerance under threat2012-12-13 13:52
Georgia has long been inhabited by representatives of many nationalities and religions that co-exist peacefully. Even between Azerbaijanis and Armenians there are no collisions. But the status of a tolerant country is under threat after the recent row between Christians and Muslims in the villages of Nigvziani and Tsintskaro. Many experts consider the thesis of extreme tolerance of the Georgian society a kind of propaganda trick of the central government, designed to create a favorable public opinion about the country, considering that at the level of ordinary people dissatisfaction on religious grounds has always existed, however, has been brutally suppressed by the Georgian authorities.
Georgia has always been a good example of extreme tolerance towards other ethnic groups and religious denominations. Symbol, a clear example of this tolerance has been and is one of the central districts of Tbilisi - Maidani. Georgian Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic churches, synagogue and mosque peacefully exist alongside at the Metekhi square. Georgians proudly say: "This is a unique place". Visual example usually works perfectly. Tourists are greatly admired.
But while four major religious denominations peacefully coexist in the center of Tbilisi, a mosque and a church fail to get on in small villages of Nigvziani and Tsintskaro. What is the basis of this confrontation? Why do the local Georgians Christians perceive the desire of Georgian Muslims to pray together and build a specially designated place with hostility?
In Georgia, the rights of ethnic and religious minorities are zealously protected since the Soviet era. In any encounter of a Georgian with a non-Georgian the latter appeared right. Authorities deliberately cultivated such situation in order to maintain the image of the country. This injustice caused discontent among Georgians, but it was hidden, sometimes unconscious. This discontent accumulated over the years.
In general, Georgians are not rancorous in nature. Maybe religious intolerance of Georgians Christians in Nigvziani and Tsintskaro is the result of the anger accumulated for years when Georgians have always been wrong? If so, we should expect outbreaks of religious confrontations across the country. This is unlikely to happen by itself, if it is not supported by some forces. It does not matter whether it's supporters of "United National Movement", who now have to answer for every trouble, or the Georgian Orthodox Church, the ministers of which are considered xenophobes hating everyone whose dogmas are contrary to their own vision, but someone obviously supports religious intolerance of local Christians. This is definitely profitable for someone.
Mehmet Ali Yeter is the Turk, living in Tbilisi for a week. But he has already managed to visit the mosque and perform Friday prayers. For him, this is a mandatory weekly ritual. You can pray alone on any day of the week, you can skip the prayer and then to pray twice, but on Friday you must pray in the mosque with the brothers Muslim. This is a rule. When we interviewed him, we asked him of his relation to the happenings in the villages of Nigvziani and Tsintskaro.