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Adigeni religious incident settled

By Tea Mariamidze
Thursday, March 3
A religious controversy in Georgia’s southern Adigeni municipality over the relocation of cemetery land for the Adigeni village's Muslims has been peacefully settled.

The controversy erupted on Monday in the Adigeni village when several Christians physically assaulted Muslim residents of the same village.

The Muslims said it was due to the fact they gained the right from the State Commission on Religious Issues to have cemetery land within the village, as previously they had to bury their people in another village.

In response, Orthodox Christians said since they and the Muslims had lived in the same village for decades, they should have a shared cemetery.

Based on the agreement reached on March 2, the Adigeni villagers will share the land for their cemetery, divided into two parts with a transparent fence and with two different entrances, as Muslim and Christian religious’ traditions differ.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of Georgia launched an investigation into the religious conflict in Adigeni village.

A criminal case was opened for the persecution of a person on the grounds of speech, thoughts, religion or faith.

Adigeni's Governor, Zakaria Endzeladze says the incident was exaggerated and no significant confrontation took place in the village.

“I believe that the issue was dramatized. There was only a small argument and the situation was settled down quite quickly,” Governor stated.

Public Defender Ucha Nanuashvili responded to the confrontation and called on law enforcement agencies to investigate the physical confrontation as soon as possible so that “a delayed or improper response of law enforcers will not encourage violence once again.”

He also called upon the local Muslims and Christians to keep the peace in order to avoid further escalation of the situation.

“Unfortunately, this is not the first case of persecution of people of different beliefs and hindrance to performance of their religious rites in this region. Those violations have not been investigated properly and the impunity encouraged a new incident on religious grounds, which poses a threat to co-existence of people of different faiths in a democratic society,” reads the statement released by Nanuashvili.

The US Ambassador to Georgia, Ian Kelly, also commented on Adigeni incident. He underlined that religious attacks and oppression of religious minorities is unacceptable for a democratic country.

“Conflicts on religious ground should not be taking place in a democratic and tolerant society,” he stated.