TBILISI, DFWatch–Conflict continued Wednesday in the small Georgian village Mokhe, as an old mosque was dismantled from morning.
Muslims tried to protest, but the Orthodox Christians opposed them and there came to a scuffle, during which 14 people were detained.
According to media outlets in Samtskhe Javakheti, most of them are charged with hooliganism and not obeying the police, while three are charged with resistance to the police.
The dismantling of the mosque took place behind a police line. The newspaper Samkhretis Karibche writes that seeing the police line made Muslims angry. One of them broke a car window, which was followed by a scuffle with locals.
It all started on October 18 when workers first appeared outside the mosque, which is to be transformed into a culture house.
The building belongs to the local municipality, while Muslims want to transfer ownership to them.
Otar Gorgodze, one of the locals, told Interpressnews that there was a mosque in this building from 1924 to 1937, but after the repressions it was closed in 1945, when the Communists organized a club here. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the mosque got back its authentic face.
“We want this building back now. Who has seen a mosque turned into a culture center,” he asked.
October 16, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashivli met with the Muslims, and Mufti Jemal Paksadze, and Mufti of Samtskhe-Javakheti Mamuka Vashakmadze. The Muslims spoke about their problems and also handed him a petition with 500 signatures about a mosque in Mokhe. They informed him about the situation with the mosque and the plan to turn it into a culture house asking PM to help them return the building.
The PM promised to study the issue and give a response in one week, but two days later the workers came there to start working on the building.
Orthodox Christians from the same village on Wednesday headed toward the local government to show their resistance of the Muslims asking to take ‘appropriate measures’ as they want a culture house instead of a mosque, while the Muslims went to the local police station to protest against the detention of the Muslims.
The Public Defender called on the government, the local municipality, the Interior Ministry to act within the frames of guaranteed equal rights and freedom of religion.