Religiebi.info is a new resource of the Human Rights Center (HRIDC) to highlight the issues related with the freedom of religion or belief and to promote development of the culture of tolerance and inter-religious dialogue. We are ready to cooperate with every religious group and to promote their freedom of faith.
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On February 9, Human Rights Center organized a media-tour in the villages of Akhaltsikhe and Adigeni municipalities. Journalists of printed media, Radio and TV-companies and online newspapers studied the conditions of the places of worship of religious minorities. Representatives of the regional media also participated in the tour.
Locked door may become a symbol of the synagogues in Georgia. Chairman of the Georgian Jewish Union Merab Chanchalashvili said large-scaled migration of Jewish people from Georgia is the main problem in the functioning of the synagogues. Other Jewish people living in Georgia also complain about it.
Nowadays, there are several temples in Tbilisi, which are topic of controversy between the Georgian Orthodox Church and Armenian Apostolic Church. They are: Norasheni Church of Dormition of the Mother of God, Surb Nishani, Mognisi St. George Church, Surb Mina and Shamkaretsi. Nowadays all these temples are on the edge of collapse. All five temples have status of the cultural heritage. Today, only Norsheni Church is being reconstructed.
“State Has Responsibility to Return Properties Seized during Soviet Period to Corresponding Religious Groups”
Humanrights.ge interviewed the head of the Legal Maintenance Office at the State Agency for Religious Issues Archi Metreveli about ongoing assignment process of the places of worship to religious minority groups and the position of the State about the disputes between the Orthodox Church and other religious groups in Georgia.
“The best solution will be if the State adopts the law and returns chapels seized during soviet period to religious minorities based on restitution. It is the best lawful way to resolve the ownership issue of places of worship,” head of the Tolerance Center under the auspices of the Public Defender’s Office Beka Mindiashvili told humanrights.ge.
Catholics call it Batumi Holly Mother’s Church; the Orthodox call it Batumi Annunciation Church. Its construction started on April 12, 1897 and finished on June 30, 1902. Famous catholic Maecenas Stepane Zubalashvili funded the construction. In 1903, Episcope Baron Eduardo Ropp sanctified the church. In 1937, the soviet government closed the church and arranged a high-voltage sub-station in it. Based on the March 15, 1989 Edict # 240 of the Council of Ministers of the Adjara Autonomous Republic the Batumi Catholic Church was assigned to the Georgian Orthodox Patriarchate under ownership.
Neither Orthodox Church nor Catholic Church considers ownership over the Kutaisi Annunciation Church and Batumi Nativity Church to be disputable. Both claim the churches are their properties. Similar relation is between Armenian Apostolic Church and Georgian Orthodox Church. Humanrights.ge interviewed secretary of the Georgian Patriarchate Father Michael (Botkoveli) about these issues.
Humanrights.ge interviewed the Director General of the National Agency for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage Nikoloz Antidze and asked him about the care the state takes of the cultural heritage, what kind of mechanisms are applied to preserve them and why it became necessary to make the law stricter.
Remnants of the historical mosque attract attention in the center of Adigeni village, which was built in 1885-1886. Today, the mosque is on the edge of collapse – it has no roof and the walls may fall down any time. Another mosque in Phlate village, constructed in 1927, is also in poor conditions. Human Rights Center requests the National Agency for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage to grant status of cultural heritage to the mosques in Adigeni and Phlate villages.
“There is Saint George’s Church here. People come and give alms to the church. Once, on the St. George’s Holiday, a man from Atskuri village brought a sheep and sacrificed to the church. Then he heard a voice in the dream – “have I offended you?” and next day he come and sacrificed the sheep to the Mosque too,” you will hear many similar stories in Sakuneti village from locals, the Mosque and Orthodox Church are located several meters away from each other. The church is functioning but the mosque is abandoned. In 2012 the Sakuneti village mosque received status of the cultural heritage. According to the inscription it was constructed in 1927.