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What will bring prohibition of wearing hijabs, niqabs, and burqas in Georgia?

By Levan Khutsishvili
Monday, September 10
On September 7, 2018, Emzar Kvitsiani, member of the Faction "Georgian Patriots," initiated the amendments to the "Code of Administrative Offenses" to penalize wearing hijab, niqab, and burqa.

According to the initiation, which will be submitted to the parliament's nearest bureau sitting, wearing hijabs, niqabs, and burqas in parks, public transport, and other public places will be fined by GEL 500 for the first time and in case of the repeated action - by GEL 1 500.

The prohibition will not apply to employees of the diplomatic corps accredited in Georgia.

“The reason for the preparation of the draft law is increased number of tourists in Georgia wearing hijabs, niqabs, and burqas. This garment makes impossible identification of a person, and besides contains threats of terrorism. Prohibitions of wearing hijabs, niqabs, and burqas are already in use in European countries. In particular, it is prohibited to walk with the named clothing: in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Austria, Bulgaria, and Latvia. From July 1 this year, Denmark also joined the number of countries," – is said in the project explanation card.

According to the official statistics from the Georgian National Tourism Administration, the number of visitors from Iran and Arabic countries is increasing rapidly every year. For example, the number of visitors from Iran raised 118,3% in 2017 compared with 2016. If in 2016 there were 147,937 visitors, in 2017 it was 322, 938 visitors and to examine the information from January 2017 and January 2018, in January 2018 visitors were 63, 9% more than in January 2017. As for statistics from Saudi Arabia, in 2017(56 247 visitors) came 164,6% more visitors than in 2016 (21 257 visitors). Turkey is among the top 5 countries from which Georgia receives visitors, and it is allowed in Turkey for women to wear the hijab. The number of tourists coming in Georgia wearing hijab, niqab, and burqa is significantly high and is increasing, so the initiative by Emzar Kvitsiani, in case it is approved by the Government can seriously affect the existing touristic tendencies in Georgia. In Tbilisi airport, on August 7, 2018, on the Tbilisi – Isfahan flight, Security Officers of Airport asked a couple of Iranian passengers to take off Hijab. The fact became the reason for an official protest by the Iranian Ambassador in Georgia.

Georgian lawmakers also will need to think about the influences of the decision of touristic business and on the fact that Georgia has a large number of Muslim citizens, and the prohibition can be an act against the Muslim minority.