TBILISI, DFWatch–The minaret that was dismantled in southern Georgia earlier in the week and taken to Tbilisi has been returned to its village, but remains in pieces for the time being.
The Revenue Service, which promised to rebuild it where it once stood at a mosque in Chela , instead sealed it at a location outside of the village without anybody keeping watch.
The Friday prayer yesterday was conducted at the mosque while the minaret stayed at the storage place.
According to Samkhretis Karibche, a local media outlet, the storage site is located two kilometers from the village. Police oversaw the unloading of the dismantled minaret. Representatives of the local governments in the Samtskhe Javakheti region and Adigeni were also present.
The Muslim community in Georgia now hopes that the government will get the legislation in place to regulate the issue of minarets and mosques.
When the minaret in Chela, which was constructed a month and a half ago, was dismantled on August 26, it caused a protest among the locals who tried to confront the police, leading to 21 people being detained.
Despite the promise from the Revenue Service to rebuild the minaret, the Georgian Patriarchate and the Muslims community in Georgia agreed to not put it back up yet, but instead seal it and keep it in storage until legislation is in place to regulate teh construction of religious buildings.
Muslims who protested in Batumi disagreed with the compromise and claimed that the Patriarchate can’t decide issues that concern Muslims. They say it is a decision the government shoud make and they continue their protest until the minaret is back up at the mosque in Chela.
The Republican Party, which is part of the ruling Georgian Dream coalition, on Friday said the minaret was constructed in violation of law; however when it comes to the religious issues, the government must not allow tension on religious grounds as religious tolerance is more important.
The party also expresses concern about the decisions made by clerics, who are giving promises that the minaret will not be restored.
“The church is separated from the government in Georgia and relations between the government and the Orthodox Church is regulated by a constitutional agreement and current legislation,” the Republican Party’s statement reads.
“As the government doesn’t have a right to intervene in religious life, the church also doesn’t have a right to take over the functions of the state.”
The party writes that government bodies must carry out decisions made in accordance with legislation about the issue of restoring the minaret.