“Everybody has a right to pray”, says this poster. (Interpressnews.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–On Wednesday, it seemed that a minaret which was taken down, ostensibly for tax audit purposes, would be put back up.

Archil Khabadze, head of government in the Adjara region, said the minaret in Chela would be rebuilt on Thursday.

Muslims had come from several regions of the country to a mosque in Batumi on Wednesday to show their disagreement with the dismantling of the Chela minaret.

The conflict started on Monday, as law enforcers started taking down the minaret on orders of the Revenue Service, so its constituent parts could be brought to Tbilisi and studied to see if the owner had violated customs rules when importing building material. 21 people were detained in the ensuing confrontation with locals, who wanted to keep the new minaret.

The local government in Chela later said the minaret was taken down because it had been illegally constructed. Then the head of that municipality, Simon Parunashvili, was detained on Tuesday, and charged with corruption in handling two tenders. He was released today on 3 000 lari bail.

Orthodox Christians in the south of Georgia also demonstrated. They demand a referendum on whether to allow minarets in the country.

Ombudsman Ucha Nanuashvili said Thursday that taking down the minaret had insulted the Muslim community.