Christians and Muslims had conflict over the village cemetery in Adigeni

In the end of February 2016, Muslim and Orthodox population of Adigeni village in Adigeni Municipality had verbal and physical controversy over the cemetery.

The conflict started in May 2015, when a local Muslim person died and the relatives requested a place for cemetery in the village. The Orthodox neighbors offered them to bury the dead person in the Christian cemetery but the Muslims refused. They said Christians often drink alcohol on the cemetery and it is prohibited by Islam.
According to locals, the relatives of the dead person were called to the municipal administration and suggested them to bury the person in the cemetery of other village. Since the Muslims do not have a cemetery, the locals had to bury dead people several villages away. As witnesses say local police was mobilized to avoid possible incidents during the funeral. The controversy lasted till February 2016.
During the field visit the mobile group of the Human Rights House Tbilisi found the conflict and problem already resolved. The locals reached an agreement. “The controversy between the Christians and Muslims started because of cemetery. It was verbal controversy without any physical conflicts. We have already reached agreement; they have place for cemetery and life continues in an ordinary way. We wish to live together, we have nothing to argue about,” local Avtandil Kicharidze said, who represented Muslim community.
Zaza Gakhokidze is Orthodox. He offered his own land to the Muslim neighbors and local administration to use as a cemetery. “My next door neighbor is Muslim. He is such a good person that we always support each other. We must combat all similar provocations that may lead us to losing our precious neighbors. I will give my own land with walnut trees to Muslims to start a cemetery there. I wish everybody calmed down and avoid generous long controversy between us. My land borders with the Christian Cemetery and we decided to have cemeteries next to each other with different entrances. They will pray in accordance to their rules and we – to ours.”
“We will have joint cemetery with a fence in between them. I do not like to segregate Christians and Muslims but in similar situation the cemeteries will have separate entrances,” Avtandil Kocharidze said. He moved to Adigeni from Adjara 36 years ago and cannot recall any conflict on religious grounds in their village. He said, on February 29, drunken young people had a quarrel and it had no connection with religion. To avoid further complications the Muslims name neither the people who participated in the incident nor those local officials, who “friendly” suggested them to bury the dead person in another village.
Neither Zaza Gakhokidze spoke about the incident details. He said it is better to talk with all parties together instead peaking behind them; the problem shall be takled together.
The representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs said investigation into the Adigeni incident launched under Article 156 Part I of the Criminal Code of Georgia, that is punishable by a fine, restriction of freedom or imprisonment up to 2 years in length.

Giorgi Janelidze

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