Protest rally in Batumi Against minaret removal

A protest rally was held in the center of Batumi in Adjara region on August 28 condemning removal of minaret by the authorities from a mosque in the village of Chela in Adigeni municipality.

Protesters, mainly from the Muslim community, were demanding an immediate return of the minaret back to the mosque in Chela, located in Adjara’s neighboring region of Samtskhe-Javakheti. Some protesters were holding banners, reading: “Hands off from Islam”.

Earlier on the same day head of government of Adjara Autonomous Republic, Archil Khabadze, a close ally of PM Ivanishvili, met Muslim clerics and prayers in a mosque in Batumi.

He was told there that the Muslim community was insulted by what has happened in Chela. Khabadze was also told that those behind the forcible removal of the minaret should be punished and the authorities should apologize for insulting religious feelings of the Muslim community.

Khabadze told journalists after the meeting that he had conveyed to Muslim clerics and to the Muslim community “many promises and requests” of the PM; the latter has not yet made any public comment or statement about removal of the minaret.

“[The PM] stands beside them and there should be no place for such misunderstandings,” Khabadze said. “It [removal of the minaret] was a surprise move personally for me and I think it was a hasty [decision] and it should now be rectified.”

Jemal Paksadze, the mufti of the Georgian Muslims' Directorate, said that Khabadze conveyed PM’s message that “this minaret will be returned back to the mosque” in Chela.

“We hope that this pain of Georgian Muslims, which is growing every hour, will be healed and we hope that the issue will be resolved,” Paksadze said.

Adapted from