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Georgian Orthodox priests incite mobs against religious minorities

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    2005.05.25 F18: FORUM 18 NEWS SERVICE, Oslo, Norway http://www.forum18.org/ This article was published by F18News on: 25 May 2005 GEORGIA: Georgian Orthodox
    Message 1 of 2 , Jun 1, 2005
      2005.05.25 F18:

      FORUM 18 NEWS SERVICE, Oslo, Norway
      http://www.forum18.org/
      This article was published by F18News on: 25 May 2005

      GEORGIA: Georgian Orthodox priests incite mobs against religious
      minorities

      By Felix Corley, Editor, Forum 18 News Service

      Georgia's Constitutional Court today (25 May) ruled that mob attacks
      violated Pentecostal pastor Nikolai Kalutsky's rights to practice his
      faith freely, Forum 18 News Service has learnt. Sozar Subari, the
      Human Rights Ombudsperson, is one of many who state that the mobs are
      instigated by local Georgian Orthodox priest Fr David Isakadze.
      Subari witnessed an attack by Fr Isdakadze and told Forum 18 that "a
      criminal case should be launched against him. However, it will be
      difficult to prove that he is responsible as he no longer turns up in
      person." Fr Isakadze and Archpriest Shio Menabde apparently also led
      a mob to expel another Orthodox priest, Fr Levan Mekoshvili, from his
      parish accusing him of being a "liberal". Elsewhere, Baptists and
      Pentecostals both state that Orthodox priests instigate violence
      against their congregations. "Until those responsible for the
      violence - especially Fr David Isakadze - are brought to justice, the
      constitutional court ruling in Kalutsky's case will make no
      difference," Baptist Bishop Malkhaz Songulashvili told Forum 18. The
      Georgian Orthodox Patriarchate failed to respond to questions about
      its responsibility.

      Georgia's Constitutional Court ruled today (25 May) that Pentecostal
      pastor Nikolai Kalutsky's rights to practice his faith freely have
      been violated by mob attacks. "This strengthens my hand in seeking to
      get the police to help me and my church," he told Forum 18 News
      Service from the capital Tbilisi on 25 May. The Russian-language
      congregation Kalutsky leads has been subject to years of mob attacks,
      most recently with blockades of attempted church services at his home
      on 28 April (Orthodox Maundy Thursday this year), 12 and 13 May. The
      police have done little to protect his church or prosecute those
      responsible for the attacks, which are alleged to have been organised
      by the local Orthodox priest, Fr David Isakadze.

      Attacks on Protestants, Jehovah's Witnesses and other religious
      minorities have been common for years in Georgia, but have died down
      since the arrest last year of a defrocked Georgian Orthodox priest,
      Vasily Mkalavishvili, who is now a priest of a Greek Old Calendarist
      jurisdiction. For his part in leading attacks, he was sentenced to
      six years jail (see F18News 1 February 2005
      http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=503). However, despite
      the testimony of numerous victims of more than one hundred incidents
      of religiously-inspired violence that clergy of the Orthodox
      Patriarchate were involved, no others have been punished.

      Rest of story at:
      http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=569

      For the comments of Gerogian religious leaders and human rights
      activists on how the legacy of religious violence should be overcome,
      see http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=499

      For background information see Forum 18's Georgia religious freedom
      survey at http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=400

      A printer-friendly map of Georgia is available at

      http://www.nationalgeographic.com/xpeditions/atlas/index.html?Parent=asia&Rootmap=georgi

      © Forum 18 News Service. All rights reserved. ISSN 1504-2855
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