CSOs, Council of Religions Decry Religious Skirmish in Guria

A group of Georgian civil society organizations united in No to phobia! platform and Coalition for Equality said in their January 14 statement that “the situation with regard to the protection of freedom of religion and belief has deteriorated sharply.” Religious associations under the Council of Religions of the Public Defender also expressed concern today over recent “insults and discrimination” over religious grounds.

The statements come after the January 12 skirmish between Christian and Muslim Georgians of Buknari village in the western Guria region, fueled by the local Muslim community’s demands for construction of a mosque and resisted by the Christians, left three persons injured.

The civil society outfits alleged the Government of “unequal treatment” on religious grounds,  as well as of violating “the principles of secularism and equality,” and “the rights of non-dominant religious groups.”

Noting that the arrangement of a private shrine is a constitutional right, the CSOs said the state is responsible for taking measures to prevent actions that interfere with the Muslim community’s right to worship.

The civil society organizations urged the Georgian Government to “ensure an effective investigation” of the clash in Buknari village, as well as “to cease discriminatory policies against religious associations.”

The Council of Religions, which unites various Christian, Muslim, and Yezidi religious organizations, on its part, asserted that “violence against people for they want to pray and open a place of worship is unacceptable,”  calling on the authorities to “unconditionally ensure the right of every person to have a place of worship.”

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