Old Batumi, a street opening to a minaret. Photo by Joe Coyle, www.flickr.com/people/onbangladesh

27 June 2012, 19:00

Djondi Bagaturiya refutes information about holding action against construction of mosque in Batumi

Construction of a mosque in Batumi and relations between Georgia and Turkey these issues are to be raised by the opposition movement "Kartuli Dasi" during the action to be held in the city on June 30. This was told to the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent by Georgian MP Djondi Bagaturiya, the leader of the movement. He has also refuted the information that on June 25, the movement held a rally against the construction of the mosque in Batumi.

Djondi Bagaturiya: "Kartuli Dasi" does not oppose construction of mosques and development of Islam in Georgia

"On Saturday, June 30, in Batumi, our party is to hold a meeting with the public, during which we are going to discuss such issues as social problems of Adzharia, political rights of the local population, unlawful arrests, human beings traffic, and sexual exploitation in Adzharia, and the issue of Pan-Turkish propaganda and state security of Georgia," Djondi Bagaturiya said in his interview to the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent.

At the same time, Djondi Bagaturiya categorically refuted the information that on June 25, members of his movement allegedly held a rally against the construction of the mosque in Batumi.

"The public of Adzharia opposed the construction of the mosque on the place of mass grave of cadets, who fought against Turkish invaders in 1918. Cadets and members of civilian militias were buried on the Batumi embankment, where they perished. Construction of the mosque named after Turkish Sultan at that place would be a blasphemy and insult to the memory of heroes, who defended Georgia. However, at present, it is known that the authorities intend to construct the mosque in another place," Djondi Bagaturiya has stated.

He also emphasizes that the "Kartuli Dasi" does not oppose the construction of mosques and development of Islam in Georgia.

"In Adzharia, more than 200 mosques have already been built, and none of those constructions had faced protest actions of our party or of anyone else. However, the matter was to prevent the construction of the symbol of Turkish occupation in the territory of Adzharia," Djondi Bagaturiya says.

He argues that many recent initiatives of Turkey give rise to concern. In particular, Turkish textbooks appeared to contain a map, on which the territory of modern Georgia, in particular, Adzharia, and Armenia are presented as parts of Turkey. The Turkish side calls the incident a mistake, and the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has promised to examine the information.

Georgy Masalkin: replica of Izmir mosque has been already built in Batumi

Georgy Masalkin, the head of Adzharia Branch of the Republican Party of Georgia, a member of the coalition "Georgian Dream", confirmed the fact that the issue of construction of the mosque in Adzharia had been closed. According to him, the new mosque has already been built in Batumi.

"Last year, 200 meters from the place of burial of the cadets, Ice Palace located, where people went to skate. This year, the mosque, which is a replica of the mosque in Izmir, was built in the place of that Ice Palace. This is not the mosque of Abdul-Aziz, and the population did not respond to its occurrence," Georgy Masalkin said in his interview to the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent.

At present, the mosque does not work, and, according to Georgy Masalkin, no one knows whether the building will be of a ritual function and used as a mosque, or there will be a cultural centre there.

When asked, whether the mosque of Sultan Aziz would be built in Azharia, Georgy Masalkin did not answered.

He points out that the Georgian government refuses to bring to public discussion the details of negotiations on construction of mosques in Batumi and Akhaltsikhe in exchange for restoration of Georgian Orthodox churches in Turkey. At the same time, according to him, the issue of the grave of the cadets has not been solved yet: at present, near the burial of the cadets, a Turkish entrepreneur plans to build a 40-storey multi-purpose building.

At present, in Batumi, the capital of Adzharia, only one mosque works. However, according to local believers, who preferred to remain anonymous, the mosque has not enough place; and during the holidays of Eid-ul-Fitr and Kurban-Bairam, many believers have to stand in the courtyard of the mosque under the open sky and to pray there.

Author: Beslan Kmuzov; Source: CK correspondent

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