Locals in Khobi, Georgia, accuse Jehova’s Witnesses of stoking separatism because they are using the minority language Megrelian. (Interpressnews.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–Friday, about 100 Orthodox Christians demonstrated in Georgia against Jehovah’s Witnesses constructing a congregation center in their town.

The Witnesses began building a Kingdom Hall in the western town of Khobi about a week ago. Today, opponents were standing outside conducting prayers in protest against the project.

Residents are protesting not only the construction of the new house, but also against Jehovah’s Witnesses preaching in Megrelian language, which they claim is stoking separatism in Georgia.

Megrelian is one of three Kartvelian languages in widespread use in Georgia, the third one being Svani, only one of which is accepted in public life, schools, newspapers and public offices.

While Megrelian is spoken in the western part of the country, Svani is spoken in the northern mountainous region.

Protesters claim Jehova’s Witnesses are engaging in anti-state activity and demand that the government forbids it.

One of the participants said they don’t go in the army, don’t participate in elections, don’t fulfill the government’s norms.

Jehovah’s Witnesses respond that they have building permission and they are preaching and spreading booklets in Megrelian language because they are talking to residents on the language that is most understandable for people, as reported by the Georgian news agency Interpressnews.

Despite the demonstration, the construction process continues.