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Minaret issue resolved

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Friday, November 29
Three months after dismantling the minaret in Chela, the local government gave permission to Muslims to restore the minaret on November 27th.

Acting Governor of Adigeni Arsen Balakhashvili explained that Muslim residents brought all the required documentation for re-erecting the minaret to the local authorities.

According to Republican Party member Davit Berdzenishvili, three parties took part in the discussions over minaret: the Republican Party, Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia and the United National Movement (UNM).

“Most members in the Adigeni municipality are members of the UNM and without them it was impossible to make a decision.” Berdzenishvili said stressing that the decision was made by consensus.

The Union of Georgian Muslims has released a statement in which they thank everyone who has contributed to the process. Special thanks were addressed to former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, the Public Defender’s Office, the diplomatic corps, as well as all the religious organizations operating in Georgia, and in particular Evangelist - Baptist Archbishop Malkhaz Songhulashvili for their mediation in the process.

“We also show our respect towards the Georgian Orthodox Church and hope for continued good relations between the two religious communities.” the statement reads.

However, a rally and public prayer was held by members of the Orthodox Church in front of the minaret. Later, the Union of Orthodox Parents also joined the rally. Police patrolled around the minaret to ensure safety.

The minaret was first erected on July 2013. On August 20th, government officials in Adigeni found that the minaret was constructed illegally without a permit from the local authorities. The city council fined the owner of the land 200 lari and ordered it to be taken down.

The minaret was taken down on August 27th, which resulted in major protests by Muslim residents of the region. The Georgian Orthodox Church protested the restoration of the minaret.