To the President of Georgia
To the Chairman of Georgian Parliament
It is our ethical duty to draw your attention to a sensitive issue of our country’s internal security. The policy of protectionism carried out by Georgian authorities in the sphere of religion for many years, which already found reflection in passing the facts of violence committed by extremist groupings in silence, has given good grounds for instigation of religious fundamentalism in the country. Today, when all political forces are doing their utmost to use their propagandistic potential (that’s quite natural) before the forthcoming parliamentary elections, we express our anxiety about the situation which is caused by the political parties (following the tactics chosen by the country’s authorities), who profiteer in religious themes in order to attract more voters through:
Carrying out pharisaical propaganda campaigns on the question of declaring some historical figures saints and reburying their remains in Georgia;
Accusing each other of religious ascription in TV debates;
Causing scandals about rightfulness of application of the religious symbols;
Representatives of business circles, whose show charity is widely advertised, also take an active part in this fuss to get political dividends.
This has not started by accident.
The religious fanatics and obscurant clergymen acting in the name of true Orthodox believers and propagandizing medieval social standards lead the country to the fundamentalist abyss:
TV channels shoe the propaganda films created specially for this purpose;
Widely is spread the literature imbued with religious fanaticism;
Religious minorities are openly or secretly persecuted and abused.
The believers are influenced with the sermons propagating different religious superstitions that give good grounds for stirring up aggressive nationalism.
Propagation of religious intolerance and its concomitant policy of protectionism pave the way to creation of a strong social basis for antidemocratic reaction leading us to unrecoverable results.
The demonstration of religious likings on the part of political parties during the election campaign, which in most cases is hypocrisy, adds fuel to the fire. In the present state of affairs, the political forces compete with each other even in “orthodoxy”.
The political parties and politicians are unanimous in loyalty to religious extremism, with that contributing to the intensification of antidemocratic processes. The world historical experience has shown that similar policy is fraught with staggering the stability in the country and degradation of society that lead to the fatal restraint of general development.
It is generally known that our country is attributed to the rank of so-called “splintered countries” according to the index of civilization identity. It is located in that critical segment of the crossroad of civilizations, which originates destructive conflicts and is considered a high-risk zone of the collision of civilizations. The pre-election speculation on the delicate religious subject against the background of antidemocratic propaganda on the part of the priesthood poses hazard to the country’s political future.
We appeal to you as the guarantees of our country’s security:
1. Call upon the political establishment of the country to agree on the pre-election moratorium on the religious subject.
2. Make provisions for working out a package plan of urgent measures that can regulate the religious-political processes, which put the country in jeopardy in the near future.
“The Caucasian House”
The Young Lawyers Association
The Biblical-Theological Institute
The Independent Journalists Club
The Independence and Development Centre
The Freedom Institute
The Caucasus Solidarity Foundation
The Union for Children’s Equal Rights
The International Centre for Conflictology and Negotiations
The Caucasus Institute of Peace, Democracy and Development
The Movement against Religious Extremism in Georgia
The Georgian Centre for Freedom of Faith
The Former Political Prisoners for Human Rights
11 June, 2003