Orthodox church in Georgia desecrated

April 4, 2016. Last week Nino Andriasova, a resident of Tbilisi announced through social media sites that some inscription inexplicably appeared on the wall of Jvari monastery in Mtskheta. ‘Today I went to Jvary with some guests and what do you think I saw there… The walls were covered with inscriptions in Turkish, Arabic and Latin languages. Why is this vandalism ignored in our country?’ she asked, as reports website blagovest.

Nino Andriasova has also shared images as a proof of this fact. The public reacted with indignation, and the police started an investigation in accordance with article 259, clause 2, paragraph 1 stipulating that all damage or destruction of cultural heritage must be punished. According to the data of the National Agency for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, there are proper names on the northern wall of Jvari Monastery written presumably in Arabic. However, the situation might not be that simple, the weekly news agency kvirispalitra.ge reports. In an exclusive interview with the correspondent of the newspaper, the director of the Institute of Oriental Studies ‘G. Tsereteli’, Georghi Sanikidze explained the sense of the said inscriptions as follows: ‘In my opinion it is a manifestation of extremism.’

Bardi Natchkebia, the head of the Centre for Antiterrorism says: ‘I think he who wrote this is absorbed by religious extremism, disregard for tolerance, and cynicism! This is the most common example of manifestation of the religious extremism.

Unfortunately, the propaganda of religious extremism is disseminated on a large scale and in different forms in Georgia. These inscriptions on the walls of Jvary monastery imply that someone wants to belittle our religion.

In fact, the success of the fight against religious extremism depends on the level of religious education. So, Muslim activists in Georgia must set the classical tolerance laid down in traditional Islam against their radical ideas’.

Beglar Kamashidze, a Georgian mufti contacted the weekly Georgian news agency ‘Kviris Palitra

It is an evident case of vandalism. No religion has the right to offend another faith. The word ‘Islam’ in Arabic means ‘peace’, which is incompatible with violence. We consider that those who accept the Islam become faithful, others live according to their own faith. We do not impose our religion and do not inculcate anyone with it. It’s better if people love each other and are conscious of the significance of Islam, if we really want to exalt Allah.

The abbot of St. Nicolas Church in Narikala, the archpriest Gheorghi Tevdorashvili considers that if this was an action intended against Georgian Church, it will be followed by a series of similar acts.

‘However if this is not so, it appears that the inscriptions were made by an amateur tourist-blasphemer. We have to forgive him and intensify our prayers. Our monuments need protection. I prefer to consider that this is an act of an unconscious tourist, although I don’t exclude that it might be a provocation, but do not want to add fuel to the fire. It may create tension between representatives of various faiths, which is possibly the very aim of perpetrators. Certainty the expression “Praise Allah” itself is not offensive for Christian religion as some use it to glorify the God, but their presence on the walls of a church is unpleasant. I wonder if the inscriptions in Turkish and Arabic were made by the same person or different. It matters.’

The head of the press-centre of Georgian Patriarchate, David Sharashenidze said:

No matter if the inscriptions contain the words “Allah akbar” or just a name, we regard it as an unacceptable act of vandalism against the orthodox church. It is very difficult to establish who are the organizers and what is their aim. I don’t know whether it is a provocation or sacrilege, the investigation will prove it.’

‘Maybe these inscriptions are not that dangerous as we think. But it is certainly an act of vandalism. Never before we have seen anyone to write ‘Allah akbar’ on the walls of orthodox churches in Georgia. It seems to be the main message here.

The word ‘Aziz’on preceded by ‘X’ with a full stop is also clearly seen. Aziz in Turkish means ‘virtuous, kind-hearted, merciful’. No one would write adjectives. Most probably it is a last name. Another image very evidently shows the name ‘Mehmet Hasan’. This statement of Gheorghi Sanikidze concludes the article in the weekly magazine ‘Kviris Palitra’.

Photo documents from Georgian news agency ‘Kviris Palitra

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