TBILISI, DFWatch–The Georgian government has promised once more to find a solution so Muslims in Batumi can have a place to pray. The only mosque in the city is too small to fit all the Muslims coming to pray.
For decades, Muslims have been asking for permission to construct a new mosque in Batumi, as the Orta Jame mosque is too small. But their situation has remained unchanged as governments have come and gone.
Now, the government promises to expend the Orta Jame mosque, but most of the Muslims don’t like the idea. Think that firstly, it still won’t be enough, and secondly, Orta Jame is a historical monument and modifying it would destroy its authentic qualities.
On Monday, the head of the Adjara region Archil Khabadze told Muslims that a commission will soon be created to handle the expansion of the mosque.
Khabadze congratulated them on the Ramazan Bayram celebration, which in 2014 took place on 28 June – 27 July.
“In the near future we are going to get a mosque constructed with Georgian money,” he said.
The ‘Georgian money’ comment was meant to dispel fears that building a mosque was ordered by Turkey. Some Georgians suspect that Muslims wanted to have a mosque built in the name of the Turkish leader Aziz, which is a controversial symbol of a difficult past for Georgia.
Khabadze said some sketches showing the expansion of the mosque already exist. The State Religious Agency will be involved in the process, with muftis, parishioners, government and experts.
“Today, I have seen our Muslims praying in the rain outside the mosque. This issue must be solved and the Muslims’ request must be granted,” he said.
Jemal Paksadze, Mufti of Western Georgia, called Muslims on Monday to be patient, adding that the government is going to fulfill the promise; he was assured of this at a meeting with Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashivli a day before.