Georgian Patriarchate Condemns Attack on Armenian Church

Holy Etchmiadzin Church in Tbilisi


TBILISI, Georgia—The Georgian Orthodox Church condemned a recent incident at the Armenian Surb Etchmiadzin Church in Tbilisi, where clerics were attacked in what was seen as a racially motivated assault. The Georgian Church has called on the participants in the confrontation to make peace.

On July 22 Prelate of the Georgian-Armenian Diocese, Bishop Vazgen Mirzakhanian met with representatives of the Georgian Orthodox Church to discuss Saturday’s incident. The parties noted that the conflict emerged as a result of an incident and does not have a religious or ethnic basis.

“The Georgian Church condemns the incident and calls on participants in the confrontation to make peace,” says a statement by the Georgian Orthodox Church. “The Church as usual will help to solve the problem and to create peaceful coexistence of religious groups in the country.”

The Georgian human rights ombudsman earlier addressed law enforcement groups to properly and effectively investigate the attack on priests at the Armenian church on July 19. On Saturday, about 50 people attacked Surb Etchmiadzin Church in Tbilisi. The Armenian Diocese says the attack was motivated by religious and ethnic prejudice, but the Interior Ministry denies the incident was a case of discrimination.

The Armenian Diocese’s statement said that at around 4 p.m. local time on Saturday, a woman who was trying to drive her car from a parking spot adjacent to the church began hurling insults and blaming church officials for allegedly blocking her way. Two men approached the woman and helped her out of the jam but then proceeded to hurl insults at the church officials who had gathered at the church courtyard to address the issue.

Hearing insults toward Armenians, the deacons protested the man who was being belligerent. He then picked up a rock and threw it at the direction of the church and threatened to beat the deacons with a stick.

Other clerics came out of the church and an altercation ensued with one of the priests being beaten and crosses being ripped off the necks of the priests. Several people sustained injuries before the men fled the scene.

The man returned with 50 more armed men two hours later and attacked the clerics and officials of the Diocese, all the while continuing to hurl anti-Armenian slurs at those present, who were at the church for a Christening.

Church officials have urged the Georgian media to stop the spread of anti-Armenian sentiments in the country, urging the Georgian Church and authorities to condemn the attack and take proper measures. Armenia’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Tigran Balayan said on Monday that Yerevan expects a thorough and unbiased investigation by the Georgian authorities.

The Holy See of Etchmiadzin issued a statement Monday expressing concern over the attacks and denouncing ethnic and religious intolerance.

“This provocative assault is a result of the anti-Armenian sentiments spread by different organizations and individuals, including some clergymen, in Georgia,” the Mother See said in a statement.

“Such radical expressions do not befit the spirit of friendly relations between the Armenian and Georgian peoples, which is one of the precious achievements of our common past,” the statement reads.

Etchmiadzin said it expected the culprits to be prosecuted and urged the Georgian authorities to guarantee the safety of Armenian citizens and the Armenian Church in Georgia.

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6 Comments

  1. bigmoustache said:

    Georgia is a muslim country now for the turks and chechens. putting crosses on your flag and making it look like a crusader flag is futile. eventually it will be a Islamic moon and stars. bravo Georgia

  2. mgl said:

    Turkish and Azeri hand for sure involved in the breaking armenian-Georgian friendship.

  3. Norin said:

    There is definitely a pattern of unilateral transgressions at work here against Armenians worldwide. This incident is grimly similar to the incident that took place at St. Mary’s Armenian Apostolic Church in Glendale CA several years ago when a supposedly “deranged” man stepped onto Church grounds with a sledge hammer and proceeded to decimate an $80,000 khatchkar all the while making anti Armenian slurs.

    Theost appalling part is that a crowd of Hyes stood there watching this violation including a host of men and did nothing! Instead clergymen began chanting psalms of forgiveness while our precious khatchkar was being hammered. This is an embarrassment for our community, to allow someone to make such a transgression and get away unscathed is simply unacceptable. That man should have been mobbed to near death and physically thrown off the Church ground into the street while the paramedics arrived to repair his broken bones and cracked skull.

    At first he claimed to be Jewish, then later almost too conveniently he recanted his statement and said to be Christian and “crazy”. We have no one but ourselves to blame for this emboldening trend of attacks on our community centers and church structures world wide. Only swift blinding street justice will put a stop to incidents such as this and many others.

    Time to grow a pair and implement our old ways of dealing with these incidents. If you see or are witness to such transgressions, grab the nearest blunt object and go to town on these instigators, after we set a few examples then we will see if any more “crazies” dare to step into Armenian church grounds or attack our clergymen in broad daylight.

    From now on we will answer violence with violence. The authorities have been warned for their lax treatment of these attacks on our community structures and members!!!

    • Armenian said:

      Yes, brilliant strategy. Let’s take up arms and attack people. Because that won’t ever be used to paint us as “barbaric”.

  4. Armenian said:

    Good that the Georgian Church is pushing for tolerance of its ethnic minorities.

  5. Annamarta Dostourian said:

    Would someone please explain who did this? Was this done by Georgian Christians (does not make sense?) What is happening politically in Georgia that this would occur?

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