Georgians Place Crosses In Azeris Villages


Information-Analytic Agency
Aug 7 2009

Local Georgian patriarchate of Bolnisi in Kvemo-Kartli (mainly
Azerbaijani populated), places 7-10m height crosses, Trend Life

The number of crosses in Georgian villages with Azerbaijani population
has recently increased. This decision by Georgian patriarchate provoked
protest and complains of the local Azeris.

According to Alibala Askerov, the chairman of Heyrat Movement of
Azerbaijanis in Georgia, crosses are placed in every Azerbaijani
populated village and rise near Azerbaijani cemeteries: "Lighted big
crosses are placed near every village and the passer-by might assume
Christians live there. Such actions might lead to worst ends. Increase
in number of crosses may cause a religious confrontation."

Lela Jejelava, the Head of the Inter-religious Relations Center under
the Georgian Patriarch, explains: "Georgia has a tradition to place
crosses everywhere. Local Eparchy did not mean to offend Azerbaijanis
inhabitants of the Bolnisi region when placing crosses. Cross is not
merely symbol of Christianity, but also a symbol of faith and love."

Anonymous theologian told that Georgians are very devout and
patriarchate considers the cross would restrain from addictions. It
is the last ditch means capable of holding Georgian society from
degradation, as Government seem to have failed this mission.

The expert does not rule out the possibility of the conflict on
religious ground involving Muslim community, particular Kvemo Kartli