The Research “Muslim Community of Georgia 2010-2011”
The current report on the observance of basic freedoms and rights of the religious minorities in the time
span from December 2010 up until November 2011 has been prepared by the human rights protection
monitoring group of national minorities ”MRMG”.
II. Brief information- Muslim community of Georgia
III. Short analysis of the status in Georgia related to the Muslim community of Georgia
IV. General overview of the situation in Georgia regarding interviews conducted within the Azeri
V. The existing situation in conjunction with “Administration of Georgian Muslims”
VI. “Supporters” of “Administration of Georgian Muslims”
VII. “Opponents” of “Administration of Georgian Muslims”
VIII. Republic of Azerbaijan, official opinion in connection with the situation related to AGM.
IX. Public and rights defending groups speak out on the setting up of AGM
X. Independent experts in Georgia-an outsider’s view
XI. Loosing parish or the process of pressing-out. The clout of Iran in Kvemo Kartli
XII. “The Spiritual Administration of Caucasian Muslims”-Away from the steering wheel of
XIII. Cleavage in the Muslim community and conflict potential
XIV. Outcomes and recommendations
The current work isn’t of a comprehensive nature; however it reflects a standpoint and opinions of the
majority of actors representing Georgia’s Muslim Community in the civil society also the
representatives of state structures and parliamentarians. The afore-mentioned research and subsequent
recommendations worked out by the human rights protection monitoring group of national minorities
”MRMG” will result in creating of a starting point for further dialog, researches and joint actions of the
representatives of civil society in their relations with authorities.
1. Issues related to the freedom of conscience, denomination, state-clerical relations constantly
attract serious heed of the state power structures as well as religious, public and human rights protection
bodies. Significant attention towards the said aspects isn’t accidental because they just not only
immediately relate to the observance of basic human rights and freedoms but at the same time to the
enhancement of moral liberties of the society, preservation of its spiritual and cultural legacy,
reinforcement of civil peace and harmony.
2. The authors of NGO report welcome an official stance of Georgia on the aspirations aimed at the
protection of rights and freedoms of religious minorities in the country and all the democratic reforms
that have been carried out in the state over the recent years. We agree that in the realm of human rights
defense the government of Georgia is aspiring to adhere to the country’s international commitments in
several directions, we also stress the point that some positive changes have occurred during recent years
in the national legislation and domestic policy.
3. From the very outset we haven’t considered our stance from the point of view of confrontation
with the governmental position or refutation of official information or conclusions. The goal of the
report infers furnishing of a position on the situation with utilization of different sources of information.
Simultaneously we’ve endeavored to evade duplication of general data, contained in the governmental
reports. From our angle this type of description is directed at facilitation of diverse and deep
comprehension of the problems of national minorities in Georgia by the international organizations
concerned, namely the problems of the Muslim community, it will also provide incentives for
substantial and constructive dialog on these themes within the country.
4. We call expedient to reflect five theme groups in the report:
1) Instances of indirect and direct discrimination on the religious basis.
2) The Muslim community in the light of international commitments and constitutional rights.
3) The state and the Muslim community of Georgia, the extent of penetration and the level of
4) Schism in the Muslim community
5) Conflict potential
5. While framing of the report authors used the following basic sources of information: reports,
information and declarations of the bodies set up on the ethnic and religious grounds, grievances of the
individuals considering themselves victims of discrimination, those who appealed for assistance to
human rights protecting organizations or other NGOs, monitoring results, analyses of the legislation,
official statistics, video materials, official speeches, responses to the requests of deputies and NGOs, the
mass media publications.
6. In the process of work on the report connected with the research of situation, we tried to
embrace those basic groups of Muslim community that have several centuries long foundation in
Kvemo Kartli region and in the whole Georgia. The research has been conducted in the most publicly
active and sizable Muslim communities of Georgia.
II. Brief summery- Muslim community of Georgia.
7. Nowadays the main area of residence of Islam followers is Kvemo Kartli, Kaheti and Adjara, In
conformity with the census held in 2002, 433,784 (9,9%) Muslims resided in the country but in
accordance with the estimates of the Muslim community representatives the number of followers of
Islam is considerably higher and for today totals circa 800 000 persons.
8. Ethnic composition of the Muslim Community is quite diverse, it includes:
Azeries (284.761 persons), Adjarians (115.161 persons), Kistians (7.110 persons), Chechens (1.271
persons), Tatars, representatives of Dagestan ethnicities, Meskhs (over 3000 persons) also aliens
residing in Georgia. Overwhelming majority of Muslims of Adjara and Kaheti are the followers of
Sunni Islam, Azerbaijani populace of Kvemo Kartli profess Sunni as well as Shiite Islam.
9. On the background of geopolitical significance of Georgia in the region and enhanced role of
religious factor not only in lives of individuals but the states as well, the forms of organizing the
religious life of Muslim community, taking place within the country are of significance. Polyethnic
composition of the Muslim population of the country and the fact that a considerable number of Muslim
Georgians are dwelling abroad, maintaining close rapport with their historic motherland is an essential
point. Besides this the alterations occurring in the religious realms of the neighboring countries –
Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey are directly impacting the situation in Georgia.
10. Official resolution of organizational matters of the Muslim Communities of South and to a
certain extent of Northern Caucasus, control of their activities are being implemented by “the Spiritual
Administration of Caucasian Muslims”(SACM) established in Baku in 1993 which is a legal successor
of “the Spiritual Administration of Transcaucasian Muslims”(SATM), Since 1980 up to dated the
position of (SACM) chairman is occupied by Sheik-Ul-Islam Alakhshukur Pashazade. The
plenipotentiary representative of “Spiritual Administration of Caucasian Muslims” to Georgia from
1996 till the mid of 2011 was Akhund Ali Aliev, his deputy in charge of the matters of Sunni Muslims
was Imam of the Tbilisi Djuma Mosque Iasin Aliev. The place of location of the plenipotentiary
representative of SATM is the Tbilisi Djuma Mosque. Imam and Akhunds of the mosque of other
communities became individuals who received secondary and higher spiritual education elected by the
village dwellers or approved by SATM. There’s one more religious structure officially subordinated to
SATM Adjara Muftiate. From 2010 onward it has been headed by the mufti of Adjara Dzhemal
11. The deficiency of educated persons from local Muslims which was quite sensible after the
disintegration of the USSR and regaining of national independence by the countries of Southern
Caucasus made feasible the penetration of religious teachers from Arabic countries, Iran and Turkey
whose activities played a certain role in the Islamic movement. The situation changed from the late 90-
ies and the beginning of 2000-s, when a possibility for the Muslim youth of Georgia emerged to receive
higher religious education in the educational centers of Azerbaijan (the Baku Islamic University,
theological faculty of the Baku State University), Iran and Turkey. Upon their comeback the graduates
made some efforts directed at the formation of Islamic education system in Georgia, development of
national traditions and protection of religious interest of the Muslims living in their country. Their
endeavors resulted in activities of two Shiite madrasahs in Tbilisi (for young women), Marneuli (for
young men) and Sunni madrasah in the village of Meore kesalo.
12. The books received from Iran are serving as textbooks for teaching oriental languages.
Theological manuals are compiled on the basis of work of the Iranian theologist and translated into the
Azeri language by teachers of madrasahs themselves. Attention is also attached to the basics of
missionary activities. After the graduation learners receive an appropriate certificate and are able to
proceed with their religious education outside of the country, carry out enlightening activities or work in
any other domain. Number two secondary Sunni madrasah in the village of Meore kesalo, opened up in
2000 and functions under the patronage of Turkish religious bodies. Lessons are delivered in the Azeri
as well as the Georgian languages.
13. Since the early 2000’s Shiite Islamic cultural centers “Alul-beit”, “Ahli-beit” and “Iman” are
functioning in the country, engaged in educational activities, publishing of journals and other dogmatic
literature necessary for Muslims in the Azerbaijani and the Georgian languages. Muslim press for the
Azeri population of Georgia embraces several basic journals published in the Azeri language; the
journals for Shiia Muslims are «Әhli-Beyt» and «Iman», for Sunnis «Uğur».
14. Islamic cultural center “Alul-beit” launched its official activities in Tbilisi in 2005. From the
moment of the establishment it’s been headed by Hajji Faik Nabiev. Under the auspices of the center
tight relations are maintained with the religious circles of Iran. Serious place in the activities of the
center is attached to charity, organization of international conferences, educational courses as well as
organization and furtherance to those individuals who visit holy places in Iran, logistical issues related
to construction of mosques etc.
15. In 2001 in Marneuli in accordance with the initiative of several founders the cultural center
“Akhli-beit” was opened. According to the director of the center meshedi Rasim Mamedov, their aim
was disseminatation of knowledge on Islam amongst Azeris citizens of Georgia, development of
religious consciousness of believers and preservation of the national traditions. Since the year 2003
“Akhli-beit” has been publishing the educational magazine of the same title, the editor of which is a
researcher Hajji Rizvan Ismailov, The center also organizes free learning courses, holds ceremonial
events and holidays. The “Iman” society is another operating enlightening body set up in Tbilisi in
2003. The director of which since the day of founding has been Namig Guseinov. The “Iman” center
also publishes a journal and educational religious literature.
16. Religious holidays play an essential role in an everyday life of Muslim community of Georgia.
Two the most important holidays for Sunni as well as Shiites are considered to be ‘Id al-adha (Kurban-
bairam) which starts on the day of accomplishing pilgrimage to Mecca and ‘Id al-fitr (Uraza-bairam)
celebrated in commemoration of the consummating of fasting of Ramadan month. The Shiites of
Georgia commemorate the death of a grandson of the prophet Mohamed, the son of imam Ali, imam
Hussein for the first ten days of the month of Mukharam, ending the tenth day (Ashura) by a funeral
mystery play. Save the afore-said days there are some other holidays and commemorative days in the
course of which worships are conducted in the mosque and certain homilies are read.
17. One of the five devotional duties of Islam is execution of Hajj to Mecca. The pilgrimage
movement of Georgia was considerably activated in the start of 2000-s and the number of pilgrims is on
the rise every year. The main places of worship for Shiite Muislims is Meshedi in Iran, there the 8th Shia
imam ‘Ali ibn Musa ar-Rida (Reza) is buried and before the outbreak of hostilities in Iraq the grave of
the third Shiite imam Hussein ibn’ Ali in Kerbela. “The Spiritual Administration of Caucasian Muslims”
(here in after referred as SACM) was dealing with organization of pilgrimage tours to Mecca and
Medina by the vehicle of its representatives and to the places of worship to Shiite imams and saints-
Muslim organizations of Georgia.
18. Quite an important place in the religious practice of Shiite Muslims is attached to reverence of
the graves of seids; there they worship for healing, realization of wishes, resolution of problems etc.
19. The process of revival of Islam in Georgia is also stipulated by historical rivalry for religious
dominance between Turkey and Iran which was reinforced after the weakening of Russia’s positions in
the region. The traditional place of Turkish interest in Georgia is Adjara. In Kvemo Kartli where the
majority of Muslim population is consisting of Azerbaijani-Shiites the participation of Iran and Iranian
Shiite clergy is felt.
20. Increased level of professional preparation of Muslim priests, evolving of religious education
served as a drive for the legalization of their legal status. Muslim community of Georgia started
movement towards the enhancement of its influence potential on the processes unfolding in the regions
with its largest concentration, namely Kvemo Kartli and Adjara regions. Within the certain part of
Muslims, especially clerical figures an opinion started to shape that there was a necessity to establish the
Administration of Georgian Muslims independent of SAC. It’s worth mentioning that the first attempt
to set up this type of an independent body was carried out by clerical figures, mostly by an active part of
“Akhli-beit” but activities of the above-mentioned organization wasn’t perceived on homogeneous
grounds by everyone, subsequently its work was frozen and blocked.
III. Short analysis of the status in Georgia related to the Muslim Community of Georgia till
5 July 2011 (the date of legislation adoption on the registration of religious organizations in
21. The analyses of domestic normative-legal field as well as political realities of Georgia manifest
that the situation concerning the freedom of conscience and protection of the rights of religious
minorities in the country is inferior due to several conditions. Georgia is the sole country on the post-
soviet space that doesn’t have a separate law on religion or religious unions. Alongside with this in
keeping with the Constitution of Georgia of 1995 (Article 9) the state acknowledges an exceptional role
of the Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Georgia in the history of the country, at the same
time full freedom of denomination and independence of the church from the state is declared.
22. On 14 October 2002 the concordat was signed, officially titled as: ”Constitutional agreement
between the state of Georgia and the Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Georgia” In
conjunction with the preparation for signing the afore-mentioned agreement the Georgian Parliament
adopted the law on “Introduction of amendments and Additions to the Constitution of Georgia”, in
conformity with which in the article 9 of the Constitution, emerged paragraph 2 regulating an
exceptional status of the Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Georgia. On the background of a
highly positive nature of the given concordat and relations of the state with one concrete religious
community, we have to single out with regret that the religious communities that are presented in
minority haven’t signed a respective concordat or any other norms regulating relationship between the
state and a religious community. This status contributed to the formation of the whole range of
disparities in the relationship between the state and religious minorities1.
23. The situation as concerns the Muslim community in Georgia till 5 July 2011 was such:
Establishment and registration of religious organizations in Georgia was regulated by the article 1509 of
the Civil Code of Georgia in accordance with which religious entities were vested with the right to be
registered in the capacity of non-profit legal entities of private law.
24. Muslim communities in general as the largest community of religious minorities considered such
a situation as form of discrimination, called inappropriate the existence in the form of a fund or a union
and desired an equal status which was furnished by the state to the Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox
Church of Georgia as well as the recognition of Muslim community in the country as a legal entity of
public law. Subsequently this religious minority required the adoption of a clear legislation on the
religious unions or conclusion of a separate agreement with the given religious community (arising from
the example of concordat). The leading Georgian human rights defenders and experts share the same
position. The Ombudsmen S.Subari’s2 opinion was that the instrument of ensuring equal opportunities
must be granted to every traditional religious minority of Georgia.
25. By the viewpoint of every interviewed individual almost without any exceptions-granting the
status of a legal entity of public law to the Muslim community in Georgia is rather significant because in
the country restoration of the religious, cult centers and buildings is ongoing, and because historically
many mosques and worship houses were affected in the soviet period. In this case the problem of
retrieval of cult and religious centers, space and the property confiscated during the soviet times from
the religious communities existing in Georgia back in that period arises3.
26. After Georgia’s ratification of the European convention on Human Rights the provisions of the
convention turned for Georgia into a commitment for a direct action. According to the rights defenders
from national minorities - quote - “In theory this is of course the case but in practice it isn’t fully felt.
Religious pluralism promulgated by the Georgian Constitution can’t be viewed; however all the organic
laws and agreements under the article 1 of the European Convention on the Protection of Human rights
must be in line with the convention but in practice this hasn’t occurred. In practice the essence of the
1. It must be noted also that the principle of separation of church and state might be considered a cornerstone element stipulated by the
European Convention on human rights.
2. Interview of a renown Georgian expert P.Zakareishvili (07.02.2006) and the public defender of Georgia S.Subari
3. “Shah Abbas” mosque had historical and cultural value not only for the Azeri Muslims also it was considered as a cultural legacy of
Georgia but was blown up in Tbilisi in 1953. By May of 2011 there was only one officially functioning mosque in Tbilisi restored after the
disintegration of the Soviet Union operating without any status or registration.
is that some advantages, restrictions or the other forms of discrimination have been set contingent on the belonging to a certain religion”, in
reality we’re dealing with a constitutional agreement solely between the Georgian state and the Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church
of Georgia and the religious communities of Muslims are left outside the legal boundaries.
IV. General overview of the situation in Georgia as concerns the interviews conducted
within Azeri Muslim Community.
27. Several interviewed representatives of human rights defending groups, religious and other public
organizations who at the same time are the members of Muslim community of Azerbaijanis of Georgia
consider their religious rights and freedoms not to be duly protected by the law because organic
legislation stands far from international standards and the Constitution of Georgia. A certain category of
the religious communities think that in constitutional rights are “narrowed” in their country and
consider that they’re encroached on the part of authorities in this case. There have been detected plural
occasions of illegal interference by authorities and pressure on the owners of worshipping houses in the
course of construction of worshiping houses and mosques. In many locations building of a minaret has
been a subject of discrimination on the part of local and regional authorities so far.
28. The situation as regards the procurement of a right to construct space destined for religious
purposes by religious communities of Azeri Muslims is extremely complex. In majority of cases
minorities face ungrounded bans on the construction of minarets, basic part of worshiping quarters have
been built as residential houses and not mosques. As it was singled out in the interview by a number of
Azeri Muslim clerical figures that in the country exists different relationship with respect to the
representatives of other religions rather than Georgian Orthodox religion. They referred to the fact that
the procedure is quite incomprehensible-to what extent it’s legal, this is an issue of another research-and
in fact implies notification to be submitted to the Orthodox Eparchy of Georgia while construction of a
mosque. By the opinion of Azeri Muslims this in reality inferred a permit from the Orthodox Eparchy of
Georgia. This situation was considered by them as discriminatory and incompatible with the principle of
equality. By using exactly these discriminatory conditions some religious bodies of the Orthodox
movement hold protest rallies with requests to impose a ban on the construction of mosques in the
places of compact settlements of Azeri Muslims4.
The President of Georgia- guarantor of the Constitutional rights.
29. It’s important to underscore that from 2003 till 2011 the President of Georgia Mikheil
Saakashvili regularly visited all the main Muslim holidays on annual basis. The President of Georgia
Mikheil Saakashvili visited religious organizations “Akli-beit” and “Alul-beit”, mosques, madrasahs of
the Kvemo Kartli region and the Tbilisi mosque.” The President of Georgia is distinguished in this
respect by showing a high level of tolerance, real care and a genuine civil interest to our Muslim
affairs”-this is the opinion of the religious leaders of Kvemo Kartli region. The president of Georgia
used to note in his public speeches that irrespective of some unresolved problems remaining there was
existing a high level of protection of all the religious communities of Georgia inclusive of the Muslim
Through summing up everything regarding this topic and arising from the public speeches of the
President of Georgia there has been formed a public stance: The Muslims of Georgia are an inherent
richness of multinational and colorful Georgia, where all the rights and freedoms of citizens are
protected by the Constitution of Georgia, Muslim community is actively partaking in the construction of
a strong democratic and law-based state of Georgia.
After 5 June 2011. The introduction of an amendment to the Public Code, in accordance with
which religious unions will be granted a status of a legal entity of the public law.
30. In summer 2011 the Parliament of Georgia introduced amendments to the Public Code, in
accordance with them religious unions will be granted the status of a legal entity of the public law. The
opposition fraction of “Christian-democrats” spoke out against the draft:”The Georgian church doesn’t
possess the same status. We must comprehend whether Azerbaijan and Armenia are intending to grant
the same status to the Georgian church, because it mustn’t look like a hand stretched only in one
direction”- party representatives stated.
31. However on this background a number of public organizations has formulated and delivered to
the Georgian public a significant formula that “a denial to grant a full scale status is restricting of a right
to practice religion and this is violating international legislation related to religious freedoms. It’s hard
to consent that denial to provide a legal status on the basis of proportionate reaction of separate groups
of population from the religious majority is in line with legitimate state interest”- end of quote.
32. The president of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili on 5 July, 2011 signed law N50345 on “the
Introduction of Amendments to the Civil Code of Georgia” in conformity with it religious minorities
can be registered in the capacity of a legal entity of the public law (Appendix N1) but there have been
some questions so far regarding the mechanism of inculcation and actual functioning of the said law.
According to one of the activists, the chair of “Youth Forum” an activist of the Council of National
Minorities under the Ombudsmen of Georgia, a lawyer and rights defender Zenfira Azizbekova there are
many unresolved issues in respect with this law “What kind and how many organizations from one
religious movement can be granted the status of a public law-one, two, three belonging to one Muslim
community? If one religious body enjoys the backing of state officials it will be in the list of most
favored and on what grounds another organization from the Muslim community won’t be registered and
granted a status of a legal entity of the public law? Who regulates the matter of how many organizations
from on community may be registered? What kind of odds is there that they will be registered? It’s
become already clear that this question has an unequivocal answer-every other second body will be in a
number of unprivileged ones and this directly amounts to violation of the Constitution of the country,
international norms in terms of the activities of religious organizations. The European Court of Human
Rights has handed down many rulings regarding this type of discriminatory examples”
V. The existing situation in conjunction with “The Administration of Georgian
33. On the basis of the law on non-profit organizations on 5 January, 2011 establishment of “the
Administration of Georgian Muslims5” was registered in Georgia” as a legal entity of a private law
(hereinafter AGM). The founders of AGM are high ranking officials of state structures of Georgia
representatives of a Muslim community themselves. In AGM a responsible entity in charge of a
registration document is an executive Resan Gogitidze. Step by step the leaders of a new structure
promulgated their independence from the ”Spiritual Administration of Caucasian Muslims”-SACM, the
center of which is located in the capital of a neighboring Azerbaijan and stated their intent to embrace
all the Muslim communities of Georgia under their control.
34. NGO AGM elected chief representatives: a mufti and a sheik of the local spiritual
administration. As Dzhemal Paksadze chief mufti elect of Georgian Muslims told the journalists
“Georgian Sunnis and Azeri Shiites have decided to set up a unified administration to resolve spiritual
issues of Georgian Muslims.”
“We’ve arrived at this decision and created a unified administration, which will be jointly tackling all
our problems”- he announced. Dzh. Paksadze will also be fulfilling the responsibilities of a mufti in 5
Adjarian regions, there Georgian Muslims are dwelling.
From the first steps of NGO AGM activities it began to develop and enjoyed furtherance on the part of
the group of state officials of Georgia which included the founders as well as those not affiliated with
the NGO AGM. The latter group included Ramin Bairamov, a Member of the Parliament, Mubariz
Karaev the Counselor to the President of Georgia on the Issues of National Minorities. The Envoy to
Kvemo Kartli David Kirkitadze, the Minister of Diaspora Affairs Davitaia. In the statements of the
Georgian public figures a baseline was apparent quote” AGM is manifestation of the Muslim society of
Georgia. This is an NGO6 and is entitled to raise its own initiative.”
35. In Tbilisi, at the Nodar Dumbadze theathre, on 29 June 2011 was held the meeting with the
founders and leadership of AGM. At the meeting a founder of AGM, Deputy Envoy G.Iusubov noted
that state officials, parliament members, spiritual leaders from Adjara were present at the event. The
event was attended by the Envoy to Kvemo Kartli D. Kirkitadze, Deputy Chair of the National Security
Council Tamar Kintsurashvili, Adviser to the President of Georgia on the Issues of National Minorities
Mubariz Karaev, deputies of the Georgian Parliament Ramin Bairamov and Azer Suleimanov.
36. Deputy Chair of the National Security Council Tamar Kintsurashvili singled out on the meeting
that setting up of such a body will tackle many issue related to the religion. The envoy D. Kirkitadze”
Creation of AGM is a historical event; everyone must hold this organization high in esteem. I’m sure
that in the nearest future this entity will consolidate every Muslim”.
37. Adviser to the President of Georgia on the Issues of National Minorities Mubariz Karaev noted”
I salute the creation of this organization, I have been dreaming of such an entity since 2005-2006. Islam
haven’t been deeply learned in Georgia as of yet, I consider that representatives of Islam aren’t
integrated in the civil society, on our part we’ll do our best to provide assistance”.
38. Deputy Envoy of Kvemo Kartli G. Iusubov also underlined his personal contribution into the
creation of AGM:”I’m proud of the fact that I’m a founder of AGM. I’m grateful to the government for
accepting our proposals. Please, accept my assurance that we will extend support to you”.
State officials who took the floor later on the meeting: Zviad Zviadadze, Kamandar Ismailov, Ramin
Asadov, Khanaimed Garibov, Hanaimed Garibov, Dzhamal Niazov, Ispandiar Kerimov. All the above
mentioned state officials singled out their partial contribution and interest in creation of AGM. On this
meeting weren’t present religious and local leaders from the region of Georgian Muslims dwelling.
5. Identification code in the public register 401953926 a responsible person, executive Resan Gogitidze, is registered as a
non-profit legal entity. Legal address: Tbilisi, Didube district, military Georgian road, 9th kilometer, parcel N 50, registration
date 05/01/2011 16:26:05
VI. The “Supporters” of “the Administration of Georgian Muslims”
39. According to one of the propagators and the founders of AGM G. Iusubov the condition of
Georgian Muslim community for the moment of founding was so inferior that only due to seeing this he
made a decision to become one of the founders of AGM. G. Iusubov notes that “there are certain reason
that contributed to setting up of AGM “, the fact is that by becoming a founder he might put under a
certain risk the state position while setting up of AGM, because-quote “There have never been this type
of an administration, this is for the first time” but he didn’t specify those certain reasons that pushed him
to this decision. According to him “In the Muslim community was happening everything, save spiritual
development” before the creation of AGM. As concerns the same issue describing the establishment of
AGM Deputy Envoy to Kvemo Kartli recalls history and stresses that” There have always been a sheik
in Georgia. After Russians came to the Caucasus by the decree of the Emperor of Russia” the
Administration of Caucasian Muslims” was created. When the Soviet State was established the said
administration was abolished owing to atheistic stance of the Soviet Government at that moment. Only
in 1944 Joseph Stalin became its second creator, this is understandable because Russian empire and the
soviet state were integral states. For instance, there was one sheik in Central Asia, one sheikh in central
Russia as well as in the Caucasus. Nowadays every country is an independent state. For example there
isn’t such a joint centralized religious administration in the Muslim community as in Catholicism, with
the center in Vatican. In other words every country has its own Muslim administration, in the countries
with dominant Islamic religion as well as the other states. And why an analogues body shouldn’t be set
up in Georgia? Not a single mosque has been registered as of yet, moreover, the religion itself wasn’t
registered. Currently the total registration of mosques in Georgia is ongoing, on the territory of Kvemo
Kartli and the registration is approaching the end”.
40. G. Iusubov noted that the Ambassador of Georgia to Saudi Arabia” had a word with respective
figures of this country and for our citizens via the mediation of AGM special quotas are being readied
for Hajj to Mecca and by the information available to me around 50 places will be allocated gratis”
together with this G. Iusubov marks that” By the Georgian legislation religion is separated from the state
but government isn’t indifferent to our religion. For example, after founding of AGM and election of
sheikh, members of AGM were congratulated by the President of Georgia Mekheil Saakashvili. The
meeting in the Prime Minister’s office was held. Alongside with this G. Iusubov marks a politicized
nature of SACM which brought the situation in the Muslim Community to inferior status.
41. G. Iusubov: “Why did I become a founder of AGM? Firstly I couldn’t be an eyewitness of the
fact that some people bring our religion to a disgraceful condition. I’m Azeri, I also represent the family
called Seids. Secondly how could it be possible that a founder of the “Spiritual Administration of
Caucasian Muslims” could be the Emperor of Russian Empire and Joseph Stalin? How come that I a
Georgian citizen can’t be a founder?”
Interview with sheikh of NGO “the Administration of Georgian Muslims” Vagif Akperov. A part
of the answers were given by imam of “the Administration of Georgian Muslims Iasin Aliev”, who
was present during an interview and fully seconded Vagif Akperov’s opinion.
42. According to Vagif Akperov Georgia observes “the Declaration on the rights of individuals
belonging to national, ethnic religious or language minorities” and “Declaration on elimination of every
form of intolerance and discrimination on the grounds of religion and conviction”. He considers that
there exists an opportunity to execute cultural, spiritual and religious rites in Georgia. Georgia is a
democratic country and is adherent to the European values, she hasn’t and isn’t impeding the execution
of the said rites by Muslims. Describing the situation related to Muslim community Vagif Akperov
singles out that as concerns the realm of publishing printed material and religious literature there haven’t
been any problems in Georgia and nobody interferes with it. A quote from the interview of Vagif
Akperov:”We’ve already published over 50 printed religious publications here, magazines, brochures
which provide religious-moral norms, arising from the principles of Sharia and spiritual values of Islam.
Georgia is a secular country and adheres to democratic values. It must be taken into account that the
Georgian state and majority of its citizens have been Orthodox Christians for many centuries. If at
schools and universities the basics of Orthodox Religion are taught and this presents the right of all the
Christians, citizens of Georgia but as I’m aware at the secular Azeri schools the basics of Islamic
religion aren’t taught nowadays. Situation in the higher educational institutions is alike. Regarding
prisons our representatives participate in interpretation of Islam to prisoners, those who are in need of
this. Nobody hinders this and mustn’t hinder”.
Further Vagif Alekperov noted that Georgia is a multi-confessional country, confessions are respected
and interreligious ties maintained in Georgia. Quote -”Our body -“the Administration of Georgian
Muslims” is a young entity yet, regardless of this we’ve already established relations with confessions
43. Vagif Akperov noted that there’re no reasons to erect barriers for implementation of religious
activities. Georgia recognizes multi-confessional society, the law adopted by the Parliament of Georgia
in early July 2011 is a manifestation of this (he infers the law on registration of religious organizations
as entities of public law). In accordance with the Georgian legislation the rights of religious minorities
are really protected. Realization of our values isn’t prohibited by the legislation of Georgia, if of course
there are no instances of the violation of norms of Georgian legislation. As Vagif Akperov singled out
“In terms of religious literature we’re not in need to bring in literature from abroad, we publish it
ourselves and disseminate in the society. It’s quite natural that there exist works of such scientific and
religious figures that are necessary for us procured to obtain and exchange experience in teaching
Islamic norms and dogmas. As regards “the Spiritual Administration of Caucasian Muslims” we always
welcome and are delighted by establishing bilateral ties. We can call our relations worm and their
development is running harmoniously. Regarding the unity of religious figures in Georgia we’ve always
been and are respectful and happy concerning possibilities of cooperation. Our entity was set up just
over a month ago and we always salute the establishment of ties with religious figures from abroad and
are grateful for this. It’s natural that cooperation with them must be carried out on equal grounds as it
must occur between representatives of Muslim religious community of Georgia with the Muslim
community of the other state. The new union of Georgian Muslims becomes a sole body entitled to
manage mosques, conduct their reconstruction and present the interests of Muslims. The short term
plans related to the development of spiritual entity of a Muslim are as follows: Final registration of our
organization as a legal entity of public law, construction of mosques, establishment of dialog and
cooperation with spiritual Islamic religious figures in Georgia and abroad, registration of mosques and
perfection of religious schools-madrasahs, carrying out inventory of religious cults, mosques, publishing
of magazines, brochures, booklets for learning, enlightening and awareness not only of Muslims. Our
Activity is truly of religious character without any political ideas and positions. A faithful Muslim must
make his deeds in conformity with Koran and even more so if he is a cleric. All our plans and actions
will be realized step by step. Georgian state is categorically not intervening in religious activities. The
state must carry out political, state affairs and can intervene in a religious domain only in terms of
registration of religious organizations, carrying out inventory of religious cults and mosques. The
Georgian Government headed by the Prime Minister recognized our legitimacy in the capacity of
religious Muslim community of Georgia; our several meetings with the state structures attest this. Our
Muslim community doesn’t intervene in state affairs, we are conducting purely religious activities and
exactly this must be done by any confession. For implementation of state affairs there are secular
entities, which possess relevant education and skills. The law adopted by the Parliament and signed by
the Georgia’s President, legalizes Muslim religious society. The status of a legal entity of public law
implies certain privileges in comparison with the previous status, which equalized all relations with
religious organization to the relationship with private entities and this was unfair in conjunction with the
confessions existent in Georgia.”
44. V. Akperov noted that “During the full length of its activities “the Administration of Caucasian
Muslims” headed by Alahshukur Pashazade hasn’t registered any of functioning mosques in Georgia”.
“The Administration of Caucasian Muslims” haven’t been at all interested in this and the mosques
operating within the territory of Georgia make private property of those individuals on whose lands they
are built…Spiritual Administration of Caucasian Muslims hasn’t done anything to register
them…”states V.Akperov, after V.Akperov continued “There’s no law on” Religion” in Georgia and the
operating religious structures are fully independent. “We’ll go to great length to return the mosques to
bosom of religion”- Summed up the sheikh of NGO AGM.
45. The Georgian Public Register Registered the organization “the Administration of Georgian
Muslims” as a legal entity of public law.
VII.“Opponents” of “The Administration of Georgian Muslims”
“Akhli-beit”-Center of resistance to AGM or the center of protecting religious freedoms of
46. According to the activist of the public religious entity “Akhlibeit”:”Creation of AGM without
informing spiritual leaders of the community and without their assent as well as the group of religious
figures, intelligentsia and society has strongly frustrated the people”. According to the Hajji Rizvan
Ismailov, discontent was largely based on the fact that amongst the founders of AGM there isn’t any
clerical figure. The main irritant turned to be the fact that the founders are mostly state officials and
employees of various state structures; this was considered by the main group of clerics as intervention of
the state in the religious affairs.
47. On the background of the development and gaining position by AGM is Georgia, some religious
leaders, of the organization “Akhli-beit”, “Iman ”and the other NGOs of the region have held several
meetings in the regions and Tbilisi. The meetings have been attended by around 60 clerics and the
teachers of madrasahs, on the meeting15 members were elected to a new independent “the highest
Religious Council7”. The members elected to “the highest Religious Council” have worked out and
readied a new charter, on which by their opinion must be based structuring and activities of Muslim
community of Georgia. Emergence of two opposing organizations on one part “the highest Religious
Council” embracing active religious leaders and on the other part AGM manned by state figures have
started to contribute to cleavage and certain level of conflict in the Muslim community which haven’t
been inherent to Kvemo Kartli region before and on the whole to the Muslim community of Georgia.
48. Several meetings were held between the representatives of the opposing organizations. In
February 2011 in the town of Rustavi in the cabinet of the Deputy of the Kvemo Kartli Envoy
G.Iusubov commenced primary talks “on the fate of Muslim community”- as later this meeting were
described by Hajji Rizvan Ismailov. According to Hajji Rizavan Ismailov, after hearing a negative
position of the clerics on AGM, G. Iusubov proposed the following:”I’m in the capacity of a founder
and an authorized entity to give you a permit to rectify errors and amend parts which doesn’t satisfy you
in the bylaws. We’ll present it to you in a rectified manner. You will run a new AGM in the future”.
Representatives of SACM and religious figures from “the Highest Religious Council” showed some
suspicion to this suggestion but still decided to introduce corrections to the bylaws of AGM”. After a
certain time span the bylaws was worked out and the following amendments were proposed:
7. The Highest Religious Council: 1 Hajji Rizvan Ismailov 2. Hajji Rasim Mamedov 3. Hajji Mirgusein Asadov 4. Hajji
Aziz Nabiev 5. Hajji Ramin Igidov 6. Kerbalai Namig Gusseinov 7. Mashedi Rasim Gasimov 8. Mashadi Elchin Aliev
9. Mashadi Vidadi Gurbanov 10. Hajji Faig Nabiev.11. Hajji Ifrat Akhmedov 12. Kerbalai Firdovsi Gasimov 13 Hajji
Gyrban Murguzov 14. Hajji Rakhid Kerimov. 15. Mashadi Azer Aliev
1. The organizers of AGM must transfer all their authority via the State Public Register to the members
of “the Highest Religious Council”.
2. There is a gross error in the bylaws, where mufti is an administrator and sheikh the second person,
this is a large disrespect to the religious traditions, what’s why positions must be changed (i.e.
3. AGM must be run not by the founders but those who will be democratically elected by “the Highest
4. According to the bylaws the authority of AGM will be transferred to the members of “The Highest
49. In his interview meshedi Rasim Mamedov, the Chairmen of the society “Akhli-beit” noted that
besides these main propositions some appropriate recommendation were made and in a written form
presented to the Deputy Envoy G. Iusubov. Waiting and additional discussion took several months and
as a result “none of these suggestions were approved”. Meshsedi Rasim Mamedov “Just on the contrary
a ridiculous step was made. Several hours prior to the elections of sheikh appointed on 7 June 2011,
several religious figures found in their phones sms from a some Mamuka. This message urged them to
take part in “the elections of sheikh” next day. Sms messages offered to elect a chief and with the
election minutes to appear on 7 June at 12 o’clock to “hastily establish” the Tbilisi AGM office8. On 6
June, 2011 several members of “the Highest Religious Council” at the building of the Minister Cabinet
on the meeting with a Deputy Minister of Diaspora Irakli Nadiradze asked G. Isubov about elections
related messages, he replied that he was unaware and asked for some time to clarify the matter. After
several hours G. Iusubov invited religious figures quote “to this shameful lections” and to the question
of the clerics “How can we go to the elections if there have been no changes in the charter? Where are
your promises?” G. Iusubov replied “take part in the elections and later introduce amendments yourself.
Religious figures were discontent with this developments quote “with the purpose to bring to a halt
forthcoming manipulations referred to as elections and not to allow some machinations”, on 7 July they
meet with the Advisor to the President of Georgia Mubariz Karaev. After hearing all this Mubariz
Karaev advised the religious leaders to be patient and didn’t take any steps”. Hajji Rizvan Ismailov
reflected his opinion on the afore-said in a following manner “Later on it became apparent that one of
initiators and coordinators of this event was Mubariz Karaev”.
50. At the same time religious leaders noted their meeting with the Envoy to the Kvemo Katli region
David Kirkitadze in the building of Marneuli local government where the religious leaders expressed
their deep discontent about the situation created in connection with AGM. According to the activists of
“Akli-beit” they didn’t receive any answer to their questions neither from the Deputy Minister of
Diaspora I. Nadiradze nor from the Envoy D, Kirkitadze. On June 8, 2011 “the Highest Religious
Council” forwarded a letter to the President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili (Letter N 1 attached).
According to Hajji Rizvan Ismailov:”Some time has lapsed, clerics and people with great hope are
awaiting a positive answer. The most painful is that at the meeting which was given a name of elections
a person who doesn’t have religious education and is notorious with his obscure and criminal past was
appointed “sheik”, his leadership is perceived by the people as an insult. Every nation venerates its
religion and wants to see an educated, devoted and respected by the people leader. Neither in the
Georgian Orthodox Church nor in some other religious movement has such thing which happened with
us ever happened. I, as a member of “the Highest Religious Council” trust that justice will triumph”-
end of quote.
8. It’s worthwhile to mention that the main venue for meetings and steps to develop AGM before setting up its office was
the office of “the Congress of Georgian Azerbaijanis”, which according to the words of former chairperson of this
organization Ali Babaev was ”Illegally privatized and monopolized by the state official, Deputy Envoy to Kvemo Kartli G.
51. According to the activist of “Akhli-beit” state officials such as G. Iusubov, M.Karaev and the
others run an information campaign against religious figures, religious activist, with the purpose to
shape a negative opinion about them in Muslim community. The religious organizations activist speak
of a frequent facts of using state power and administrative leverages for intimidation of regional
members, religious activists of “Akhli-beit” and the sympathizers of this entity. According to the
religious activist karbalai Namig, such a status is impairing the image of democratic Georgia.
52. According to the Hajji Rizavn Ismailov a member of “the Highest Religious Council” and the
head of recently created organization protecting the rights of religious and national minorities named
“Vizhdan”. The latest processes unfolding around the Muslim community turned into a hotspot of
“plural violations of rights and freedoms of a religious minority”. Hajji Rizvan Ismailov “I consider my
duty to deliver information to local and international community, the Ombudsman’s office, international
organizations working on human rights issues, UN and the Heads of EU countries, and call upon them
to aid Muslims to tackle this problems”- the end of quote.
53. Coalition of NGOs “Akhli-beit”, ”Iman”, “Vidzhan” members of “the Highest Religious
Council” has made an attempt, quote-to reach the President of Georgia and organized collection of
signatures with an appeal, in which, quote ”Have been reflected some concerns and anticipations of
activists, ordinary Muslims of Georgia” By September of 15, 2011 9000 signatures have been collected.
According to the organizers of the collection of signatures:”the collection campaign was running under
the pressure of local authorities that took certain measures to avoid and bring to a halt the campaign of
signatures collection”. According to the data from the coalition of religious NGOs, local authorities by
the vehicle of intimidation, blackmail make some signatories under the appeal know that for signing the
appeal to the President they might face different kinds of responsibility. In October 2011 all the
signatures were handed to the Chancellery of President of Georgia. The citizens who collected petitions
didn’t receive any response.
54. The state public register haven’t registered the organization “the Highest Religious Council” as
a legal entity of public law, official answer reads” to perfect the bylaws and bring it to the level of
compatibility with the legislation of Georgia”
“The Spiritual Administration of Caucasian Muslims”-SACM.
55. Shortly after an official declaration of AGM, SACM reaction ensued9. During the session of “the
Highest Religious Council of the Caucasian People” (16 May 2011), the SACM chairman Sheikh-ul-
islam Alakhshukur Pashazade stated that a new entity “doesn’t serve beneficial goals, because it may
become a dividing factor between Azeris of Georgia and Azerbaijan”. According to Sheikh-ul-islam
Alakhshukur Pashazade “This event haven’t originated recently, all of this have started from the day
when Georgia adopted the four cross flag10” As Sheikh-ul-islam Alakhshukur Pashazade noted the
setting up of AGM could be justified if in a country ”with similar administrations for every religion”
According to Sheikh-ul-islam Alakhshukur Pashazade over half a million Azeris dwell in Georgia that’s
why this issue will be discussed with them and also will be touched upon “On the intergovernmental
level and on the level of spiritual leaders of both countries”.
The chairman of “the Spiritual Administration of Caucasian Muslims” Sheikh-ul-islam Alakhshukur Pashazade has made a drastic
statement in the Azeri press and called creation of “AGM” an Armenian project: “The said project has a goal to cause a rift between Azeri
Muslims the dwellers of this country and Azerbaijan but behind all this is hiding the idea of “Great Armenia”…and they will be once held
responsible before their own people”.
Before the adoption of the law regulating registration of the religious bodies as legal entities of the
public law in Georgia, the representative of SACM in Georgia Ali Aliev marked on the meeting with the
journalist that “the mosque will proceed with its activities in Georgia and will continue to be
subordianted to SACM again. There’s no law existing in the country regulating religious issues that is
why a new entity doesn’t possess neither authority nor a status”-noted Ali Aliev “the founders of such a
structure must be representatives of religion, clerics-stated the SACM representative –there (AGM is
implied) isn’t present any cleric, they are secular people, and some of them are working in the state
At the same time Ali Aliev doesn’t lean toward a political connotation of setting up a new spiritual
administration. According to him “the Georgian government and Mikheil Saakashvili personally
constantly declare friendship with Azerbaijan and Azerbaijani people, due to this we don’t consider that
the goal to create this administration has originated from the Georgian government”.
Georgian Muslims of Adjara-“The Union of Georgian Muslims”.
56. At the same time “the Union of Georgian Muslims” spread a statement11 and noted that NGO
AGM quote “…won’t be accepted by Georgian Muslims in any prioritized form or as a supramuslim
structure…”due to several circumstances12.
57. Namely, the Union recognizes “the Administartion of Spiritual Muftiate of Adjara” as the
supreme religious organ of Georgian Muslims” and not “the Administration of Georgian Muslims”
which is an NGO “for the”Union of Georgian Muslims” an organziational form of “AGM” isn’t
acceptable in terms of founders compositions which contains personalitiies unfamiliar for Georgian
Muslims”, - reads statement further.
58. The ”Union of Georgian Muslims” also attaches attention to the fact that a part of the founders of
NGO AGM, irrespective of the title of organization are not Muslims and religeous entities. “This is a
testimony that Muslims rights are being clearly breached by those officials who play an active role in
creation of the above-mentioned organization. Georgia is a democratic country and the state mustn’t
intervene in religeous activities. Freedom of conscience and denomination are safegurded by the
Constituion” - is underscored in the statement by “the Union of Georgian Muslims”.
VIII. Republic of Azerbaijan, official opinion in connection with the situation related to
59.In the meantime the State Committee of Azerbaijan Republic of Work with Religious Structures, in
May 2011 received a special representative of Patriarch of Georgia bishop of Hornabuji and Hereti
diocese Arkadi Khachidze and the Plenipotentiary and Extraordinary Ambassador of Georgia to
Azerbaijan Teimuraz Sharashenidze. At the meeting the issues of bilateral relationship in the religious
sphere were discussed as well as the state of the Georgian temples in Azerbaijan and activities of
religious communities related to them. According to the State Committee it’s registered two Georgian
Orthodox communities in Gakh district and they’re freely functioning currently. It was mentioned that
in contrast with the Georgians living in Azerbaijan, Azerbaijanians of Georgia face serious problems in
the religious sphere.
60. At the III World Congress of Azerbaijanis of the World the President of Azerbaijan Republic Ilkham
Aliev stated that SACM will open up a number of representations by the state support of Azerbaijan and
their funding will be allocated from the state budget of Azerbaijan Republic. According to the Azeri
political analysts a representation will be opened in Georgia at first.
61.At the conference of 27 August 2011 “Integration of Azerbaijanis of Georgia in the context of the
strategic partnership of Azerbaijan and Georgia” an official representative of the State Committee of
Azerbaijan Republic of Working with Religious Organizations of Azerbaijan in his speech titled
“Situation in connection with religious freedoms of Georgian Muslims” one more time reminded the
representatives of Georgian authorities that there’s a necessity to take into account the standpoint of
Azerbaijan republic, SACM and in general the opinion of believers in Georgia. Further the committee
representative emphasized that “without all said the process called AGM might lead to poor and not
visionary outcomes, which could inflict damages on the relations of Azerbaijan Republic and Georgia in
general”- end of quote.
IX. Public and rights defending groups speak out on the setting up of AGM.
62. Ali Mamedov, the chairman of organization” the Institute of Kvemo Kartli Civil Society
Development” delivered his opinion in an interview: “We face a lot of obscurity as a result of recent
arising of an issue related to setting up an NGO “AGM”, the aim of which is to undertake the
management of the Muslim Community of Georgia,. Unfortunately AGM was led not by clerics but
state officials. This caused an outcry amongst religious figures, mere believers as well as public
organizations. I as a religious man, representative of public sector I consider that this kind of
organizations the activities of which concerns such a delicate issue must be led not by state officials
but clerics. Only religious figures can fully present our religion to the society and through their
knowledge of all the bases of Islam they can fully well pick up a necessary direction on which it’s
necessary to work to preserve true values of Islam. A negative point of the state officials being in the
leadership is as follows: There is an opinion amongst the believers that the founders of AGM are not
aware of the essence of Islam, the positions they occupy won’t allow them to work fully as
representatives of Muslims. In general all the negative sentiment that has formed over a recent time in
Georgia embraces: economic instability, low level of education at schools and this forces us to think
about the future prospects of our children. I’m a person who has never thought of leaving my
motherland because I was looking at all the developments optimistically. The fact that I’m concerned
and I decided to leave means that this concern is real-summed up Ali Mamedov.
63.However there’re also radical opinions regarding the founders of AGM, quote “They don’t trust in
God, because as the clerics are in the know that they’re generally standing far from the Islamic
precepts and execution of Islamic covenants. I think that state officials must be attending to state
duties, that’s why they are state officials but they’re incapable to represent our religion. The creation of
such a situation has been facilitated by the fact that the state of Muslims in Georgia hasn’t been
balanced and required Sheik-ul-islam Allakshukur’s furtherance under the patronage of whom had
been living Georgian Muslim community but unfortunately couldn’t obtain due attention and
64.The majority of the rights protecting organizations’ standpoints capitalize on one opinion that they
aren’t against the functioning of AGM but only under one condition, if religious figures will be in its
leadership. They must be annually rotated through voting and by the same vehicle will be appointed a
mufti and a sheikh. Quote of a cleric “Many expected better status from establishment of AGM but all
were disheartened after state official came to the leadership and mullah Vagif (Vagif Akperov is
implied)was appointed sheikh. The above-mentioned organization won’t ameliorate the status of
Muslim at all. We’re afraid that it might happen just totally on the contrary, I eye just one positive
point-there might emerge some competition and to show their effectiveness old structures headed by
the sheikh of the Caucasus Allakhshukur Pashazade will finally start furnishing appropriate aid to the
Muslims of Georgia” The poll manifested that over 10 public entities express almost analogues
opinion on the fact that AGM can’t reflect the interest of Georgia’s Muslims.
Alongside with this it must be noted that there are several NGOs that quite actively championed setting
up of AGM.
X. Independent experts in Georgia-an outsider’s view.
65. Georgian press and public figures, Georgian NGOs, experts in general stayed away from the
topic of AGM. In the Georgian language printed press the process of AGM formation so emotionally
perceived by Muslim community has been reflected only in several articles. Rather substantial has
turned out to be a journalist investigation of the situation on AGM issues by Khatuna Paichadze13 the
core idea of which is religious confrontation in the Caucasus. Khatuna Paichadze connects the situations
to the Christian community in Azerbaijan Republic and as a result of this analyzes the situation of AGM
registration by Authorities in Georgia.
66. Khatuna Paichadze considers the situation created-quote “paradoxical, paradoxical is also the
fact that the founders turn out to be state servants and public entities, for instance Marneuli majoritarian
deputy Azer Suleimanov and deputy of the Presidential Envoy to Kvemo Kartli G.Iusubov. Vagif
Akperov has been appointed the ruler, sheikh of AGM. The oversight of Muslims public activities and
mosques is declared the reason of creating AGM. The creation of AGM has been followed by a loud
noise amongst Caucasian Muslims. In Baku has been urgently convoked the congress of “the Highest
Religious Council of Caucasian Peoples”. The representatives of “the Administration of Caucasian
Muslims” of Georgia, Dagestan and all muftis of the Caucasus have taken part in the event. The
Congress of “the Highest Religious Council of Caucasian Peoples” has condemned AGM. A new
administration has a status of an NGO but there’s an assurance in Baku that the said union is initiated by
the leadership of Georgia. Setting up of AGM has entailed a very risky and insulting step, forcing
SACM representative Ali Aliev to leave the Tbilisi Mosque. Khatuna Paichadze underscore that “it’s
quite apparent that the spiritual leader of Azerbaijanis is offended. If one looks through the Azeri press
it will become evident that Azeri public is affronted too”
13. 27-08-2011 http://www.kvirispalitra.ge/specialurad-saitistvis/9160-didi-religiuri-gankhethqileba.html
67. Chairman of the Socio-Democratic party Araz Alizade accused Mikhail Saakashvili of an
attempt to instigated confrontation between Shiites and Sunnis: “This is a deliberate policy of the
President Mikheil Saakashvili. The Leadership of Georgia wishes to create a rift between Shiites and
Sunnis, weaken SACM authority. Azerbaijan has to clearly state its position on this issue…and that’s
why “SACM” is exactly such a recognized entity on the international arena which plays a positive role
for maintaining the integrity of Islamic world in the Caucasus. Currently we face erroneous division into
Sunnis and Shiites in the Caucasus. This also-puts Azerbaijan on a perilous track of a religious war, I’m
sure that between Sunnis and Shiites of the Caucasus there is an antagonistic mood as well as the fact of
creation of an armed bandit groups funded by the Saudi Arabia. It’s also interesting that the goals of
Mikheil Saakashvili and Saudi Arabia concur. Basis why? Because they both act by the US the
directives. The Caucasian confrontation between Sunnis-Shiites is exactly the scenario staged in Iraq.
American forces has withdrawn from there but Sunnis and Shiites continue to slain each other. This is
extremely dangerous. Iraqi Shiites and Iranian Sunnis are kind of aided from Saudi Arabia. The west is
acting in a following manner: kill each other and only we’ll live in peace”-end of quote14. Araz Alizade
said in his interview with ИА Regnum that Georgian authorities are standing behind the setting up of
AGM. “Georgia endeavors to separate Azeris from Azerbaijan curb Azerbaijan assistance to Azeris,
Mamuka Areshidze an independent expert on the Caucasian issues
68. “Sheikh-ul-islam Alakshukur Pashazade” is a spiritual leader of Shiites. It’s true that he isn’t
recognized as a spiritual leader in Northern Caucasus but he’s held high in esteem and his viewpoints
are reckoned with. He’s a leader of the South-Caucasian Muslims, Azeris make majority of the South-
Caucasian Muslims. The other religious groups such as Adjarian muslims, Kistians, Avarians living in
Georgia were nominally independent from Alakhshukur Pashazade. They aren’t subordinated to him but
there was a loyal dependence. Alakhshukur Pashazade as the Chairmen of “the Administration of
Caucasian Muslims” had a vast clout with respect to two countries (Azerbaijan and Georgia) and in the
capacity of Azeri Muslim leader wielded the leverage of passive influence on Iranian Azeris. He has
supported Illia II-considering him the leader of Transcaucasian Christians in this regard Baku-Stavropol
bishop’s authority was restricted and the Georgian church had higher authority in the Caucasus.
69. Answering the question in terms of evaluation of setting up of AGM and the issue of a new sheik
recognition Areshidze noted that “an idea to create such an entity isn’t a bad one but there’s another
question of how it was realized. Last year representative of Adjarian community visited me; they desired
to establish this type of an organization in Georgia. It may happened so that somebody from the
leadership of Georgia liked but wrongfully apprehended this idea and by dint of this decided to oversee
Muslim community but this was done very roughly and on a dilettanti level. It’s nonsense to have
Shiites and Sunnites within one administration. Islam as a religion doesn’t like the intervention of a state
in its activities.
The above-mentioned administration was set up by the public figures and Akhund was also appointed
by them, disregarding the will of people and interests of minor communities. In Islam serious
significance is attached to counseling with Ulems (Sagacious people, local senior men) but our
leadership has artificially set up an administration from the top and obligated all the Muslims dwelling
in Georgia to join it.
70. Speaking of the risks connected with setting up of AGM, Mamuka Areshidze noted that “a
tragedy is that we couldn’t turn local Azeris into a fully-fledge Georgian citizens. Majority is interested
in developments in Baku and not in Tbilisi. After Hajji Alakhshukur Pashazade learnt about the
establishment of AGM, he felt insulted. Moreover akhund subordinated to him was forced to leave the
mosque. Hajji Alakhshukur Pashazade appraised this step of Georgian leadership as an Armenian
project and by this insulted the Georgian leadership. This means…, that another source of tension
emerged between Azerbaijan and Georgia. Our government very often moves from one extreme to the
other. First it would go to great lengths to console the Armenian Church, after kind of turned the
spiritual leader of Azeris into a foe. At the end of the day neither Armenian Church was content nor
Azerbaijan. Relations became tense. Everyone was offended and we gained nothing. By some
unconfirmed information a new akhund was serving 11 year term in penitentiary for rather a heavy
crime. It’s natural that for religious leaders this is a big flaw and due to this majority of Muslims doesn’t
recognize a new akhund” – end of quote.
71. Mamuka Areshidze marks that there are different directions in Islam and because of this it’s
necessary to correctly define a policy (in Georgia), to avoid aggressive attitude between representatives
of different religious directions which might be conditioned by this (setting up of AGM) not to inflict
damage on Georgia. The formation of a new AGM was also opposed by the communities of Adjarian
Muslims. Due to the pressure from the government a part of the community was urged to back up AGM,
the other part doesn’t champion it even at present. Quote “All religions elect a spiritual leader
themselves and here they appointed akhund without counseling and elections! This is like if on one day
a patriarch may be appointed without the decision of the Synod.”
It’s natural that all the afore-said have caused a lot of confusion. There are operating various special
services In Georgia under cover of religious entities. Now our neighbor Muslims will utilize this
circumstance and seek support and backing. We had Hajji Alakhshukur Pashazade, the chairmen of “the
Spiritual Administration of Caucasian Muslims” who used to neutralize their activities. Shiites and
Sunnites were made accountable and tried not to be active in South Caucasus. Right now he’s looked at
as a foe and the situation will be drastically confused….it’s evident that Hajji Alakhshukur is affronted
as well as the leadership of his country and so called Albanian eparchy was urgently created-in response
to all this. It seems that Albanian eparchy will be confronted with the Georgian church and on one day
from two churches the last Georgian priest will be banished….It’s feasible that events might turn into a
nightmare. Confrontation between the Muslim communities has already come to the fore. The
government of Georgia will have to control the situation forcibly which will entail a large scale
aggression in the Muslim world, and in general, it’s unacceptable to treat religion in such an insulting
Gia Nodia - expert, political analyst
72. According to G.Nodia’s opinion “Georgian government is trying to achieve equality in the
religious realm but this equality isn’t existent in reality because the Orthodox Church
enjoys a quasi-state status with respect to the other religions of Georgia, however it isn’t a state religion
but is very often referred to as a state one. For example, when the interest of the Orthodox Church and
those of religious minorities of Georgia are divergent, a clear-cut advantage belongs to the Orthodox
Church. In this case it’s hard for the government to uphold minorities religions by any political
implement” He continues “the state officially doesn’t impact religion but in reality it intervenes
informally, this intervention is of such a form when various state structures, political parties,
organizations wish to obtain support of the Orthodox church. In fact the state subsidizes the Orthodox
73. G. Nodia marks that the adoption of “An appropriate law on the status of religious organizations
is a positive step because this was a plea on the part of the religious minorities, it’s also positive because
religious bodies can register themselves not as non-profit Organizations any more in other words the
claims of religious minorities are met. Georgia is a secular country and maintains democratic values. It
must be taken into account that the Georgian state and majority of her citizens have been orthodox
Christians for centuries. If the basics of Orthodox religion are taught at schools and universities this
reflects the right of every Christian, citizens of Georgia but as I’m aware in the secular Azeri schools of
Georgia the basic of Islamic religion aren’t delivered currently. In the higher educational institutions the
situation is analogues.”
Georgian political analyst Gela Vasadze.
74. In his interview of 18 May 2011 Gela Vasadze noted “If not for certain circumstances, I would
consider with clear conscience that the essence of the matter is related to stupidity and greed of the
people who wanted to grab a profitable position and the center hasn’t just reacted to this or hasn’t had a
wish to react not to break balance in the region which and this isn’t a secret to anybody that the society
in Kvemo Kartli is quite traditional and conservative, there are local non-formal authorities and leaders,
presented on the level of local authorities but these events are just on link in the chain of strange events
unfolding around Georgian-Azerbaijani relations nowadays” According to the expert for that period of
time: “Georgian authorities has nothing to do with setting up of the said NGO and leading Georgian
Muslims the largest part of which are Azeri-Shiites away from subordination of SACM based in Baku is
in contravention with the state interest of Georgia. This is quite well comprehended in Tbilisi. It might
be another story if Sunnites Muslims arrived at the conclusion to be united in their own organization. By
the information available I can’t neither confirm nor refute that some Turkish religious figures have
been working for a long time on this issue. It can’t be banned legally and in principle this will be an
internal confessional issue but the essence of the matter is that here we’re dealing with duplication of
“the Administration of Caucasian Muslims” model. It’s no accident that NGO was given exactly the
same name replacing the word Caucasus with the word Georgia. What’s why I reckon that we’re dealing
with planned and well conceived provocation for a long time”.
XI. Loosing parish or the process of pressing-out. The clout of Iran in Kvemo Kartli
75. Some politicians and public figures mark an incremental impact of Iran on the Georgian
Muslims in the course of recent 15-20 years. In accordance with some analysts exactly this factor is
presented by the Georgian authorities as a “scarecrow” to the western allies and Azerbaijan but from the
angle of skeptical analysts of AGM, Iran’s clout won’t be affected by any means:” Unprofessional
approach to all what happens will dilute every effort at the end of the day, because the level of
knowledge, the quality of work with the parish, the level of missionary and proselytical work of the
entities who enjoy Iran’s support far, far more exceeds the that of AGM founders and activist”. Backers
of AGM will stay with their “visible but purely superficial activities” and the champions of the Iranian
school will move to the shadow, there the intent of Georgian authorities to “limit within the framework
of law” their activities will encounter the wall of resistance from this part of Muslims mostly Azeris. On
the background of pre-election campaigns of 2012-2013-2014 nobody will go for this confrontation and
wouldn’t like to lose votes. Iranian missionary activities in Georgia will retain the support and financing
of every educational religious establishments of the Shiite movement. The course of activities is aimed
at the Georgian Muslims learning in the religious educational centers of Iran. Public organizations
funded by the Iranian donors will retain their material and human resources while transferring to a
qualitatively new level of management”.
XII. “The Spiritual Administration of Caucasian Muslims”-Away from the steering wheel of
76. Georgian authorities has provided assurances during several meetings with their Azeri
counterparts that by no means the establishment of AGM is aimed at squeezing-out of SACM,
organization which is one of the elements of self-identity of Azerbaijanis in the Caucasus. Georgian
authorities are actively consoling secular state power of Azerbaijan Republic as well as SACM by
saying that creation of AGM is a medication directed against any potential of extremism on the religious
ground in the whole southern Caucasus. Although some political analysts in Georgia and Azerbaijan
reckon that the outcome of AGM creation is as follows:
• The public activity of AGM emerged, “An active arm” of the Georgian authorities in the Muslim
• The trend of an open transformation appeared as well as somewhat shadowy enhancement of Iranian
impact on Shiites in Georgia.
• Turkish influence on the Muslims in Adjara and partly in Kvemo Kartli region remained.
• SACM remained outside of all the events in Georgia. SACM lost every position regarding
management of Muslim community in Georgia.
XIII. Cleavage in the Muslim community and conflict potential
77. An active part of public entities from Muslim community tend to consider that the situation
around Muslim community of Georgia isn’t in line with Georgia’s constitutional norms. Collection of
signatures, appeals, round tables organized by “Akhli-beit” weekly, after the Friday namaz, meetings,
topics that are discussed at these meetings and also in some other places of massive gathering of citizens
(chaikhana(tearoom) in Marneuli)and in the regions give us an opportunity to say that a deep cleavage
has emerged in the Muslim environment. For example, Azeri Muslim community has been divided into
3 clearly defined positions:
• Position number one: AGM-this is an important and necessary organization, there are such managers
who “are accepted and heard by the Georgian authorities”
• Position number two: importance of SACM presence in the region, which serves as a natural bridge
for Georgian-Azeri relations and it mustn’t be eliminated.
• Position number three: there is a necessity to create AGM but this organization must become a real
reflection of religious needs of the Muslims of Georgia and be manned with the clerics and shouldn’t
be directed by state officials.
78. The second and the third positions are somewhat near because they allow concession and find
resolution of the problem. For instance, owing to the fact that they accept participation and joint
activities with SACM and finally consider normal the continuation of work of SACM in Georgia. Some
religious activists mark that maskhabs (movements) of Georgia’s Muslim community became
suspiciously confronted against one another which is the first surge of conflict potential and requires
more deeper and scrupulous analyses.
XIV. Outcomes and recommendations of monitoring.
79. It goes without saying that the Muslims of Georgia should have capability to freely without any
guidance from outside partake in religious life which is connected with a mosque and a type of
community participation should be defined in line with religious convictions as well as access to the
norms prescribed by religion and it mustn’t be dictated, examined or by any other form restricted by
demands of the state.
80. The Leading persons of the Muslim community in Georgia note the significance of rights for the
assurance of access to a legal status.
81. In order to be harmonized with the principles of international law, especially OSCE principles, a
legal status of a basic level which is usually granted must have been furnished to the Georgia’s Muslim
communities, a right to freely set up and utilize legal entities for the realization of any type of religious
activities. Restriction of this activity, state oversight can’t exceed the boundaries stipulated by the basic
82. It’s important to note that there is a sizeable need of a flexible approach to the organizational
issues in the Muslim community in Georgia and in this context its significant to widen the scope of
public attention in terms of inadmissibility of state intervention in evaluation of fairness and benefit of
religious doctrines that for sure must be apprehended in a narrow meaning of restriction to profess
religion and structure organizational activities within the framework of the Constitution.
83. When they speak of the right to freedom of religion or conviction, first thing which occurs to a
person-is a right of Muslim community to act in accordance with its conscious convictions to freely
execute (or not) religious rites and live in a society without discrimination on the grounds of convictions
but from the standpoint of practice, utilization of these fundamental rights of religious freedom is
strongly contingent on the fact by the vehicle of what legal structures under the control of public
servants religious community of Georgian Muslims may carry out its activities.
84. It’s evident that the existing status in Georgia is in fact restricting the rights of Muslim
community of Georgia to practice religion without diktat of a state official which makes the
Constitutional principle on the delimitation of secular power from religion invalid. Obscurely defined
“rules of the game” around religious Muslim community pose danger in this field, this is extremely
sensible in terms of the Muslim community of Azerbaijanis of Georgia, the rules that in fact allow
arbitrariness on the part of public servants in the future. This can’t be grounded by the fact that the
condition is contributing to the landing of one or several legal goals (this doesn’t include the goals of
state security) and most importantly they can’t stand the test of “expediency in a democratic society”.
The activity of state power and its representatives that directly or indirectly relates to Georgia’s Muslim
community, not allowing the afore-said Muslim community to structure flexibly its activities (within the
framework of appropriate Constitutional order), doesn’t meet the criteria of a law-based state.
85. The latter poses a question whether there really is an urgent public or state need in actual
introduction of this restriction and in fact inculcation of a direct state management, rigid vertical for
Muslim community, is this proportionate with legal goals that must be attained?
86. Existence of a law, managing principles on the basis of which religious entities might be
recognized and operate as legal entities must be extremely accurately formulated. If they are used as a
controlling mechanism (and not means aiding organization of religious life) a risk of breaching basic
norms of freedom of religion and association appears. In addition they may turn into a reason of action
on the part of “authorities” leading to discrimination related to the law or a fact and to the violation of
commitments as well.
87. The existence of a real reflection of aspiration and representation within the framework of a legal
entity in Muslim community is opening access to additional advantages such as direct or indirect
financing; a right to execute rites having legal power, such as marriages, rights of caring for people in
prisons and hospitals etc and finally a certain symbolic prestige connected with a certain type of
88. However, a situation artificially created around AGM concerning Muslim community is often
times more used for the oversight and not assistance to their freedom. Formation of AGM regulating the
activities of religious unions is utilized with respect to Muslim community, and as a controlling
mechanism the activities of AGM are mostly aimed at the Azeri Muslims and this seriously impedes
89. In addition to this it must be clear that unjustly placed restriction and management by public
servants of the Azeri community of Georgia can’t be in compliance with the Constitution, with the
clause on division of secular power and religion and that the said restrictions are used with
discriminatory purposes or with such a mode which leads to discrimination.
90. Regretfully, there isn’t sufficient flexibility from the part of secular authorities, which would
enable religious community to act outside the demand of cult exercise. These types of restrictions
explicitly violate the rights of religious community which in terms of significance of sheik’s elections
who possesses unquestionable authority amongst Muslims is having ideas based on its religion, legal
charity as well as humanitarian and pedagogical work.
91. Modern Georgian system of state power is utilized on one side to support historically stipulated
religious organization, which enjoy special preference and on the other part through setting up of AGM,
it might serve as an implement of ruling and also partially suppressing religious minority.
92. Irrespective of the fact that in conformity with international norms Georgia has undertaken the
commitments and made a legal status accessible for the groups ready to carry out religious activities
within the framework of the Georgian Constitution, Muslim community of Georgia is a hostage of
circumstances and a legal vacuum to a certain extent as well as public servants’ arbitrariness and their
93. There is a sufficient quantity of instances, when representatives of the state-public servants of
regional and local authorities utilize administrative resources for the oversight and sometimes also
infringing upon Muslims religious life.
94. Secular needs of the Muslim community and serious abuse on the part of public servants enhance
the necessity of protection in compliance with international norms and commitments of Georgia that
guarantee to the religious communities a possibility to enjoy freedom of religion by dint of various legal
95. Majority of international organizations, diplomatic corps in Georgia, NGOs are concerned
regarding the issue of absence of tolerance in conection with the Muslim community. Activists and
rights defenders in the places of Muslims compact dwelling single out in terms of ethnic Azeris mostly
that the Georgian authorities within the framework of commitments must more favorably consider
application of religious communities of Muslim believers professing or ready to profess their belief
within the Constitutional framework of Georgia for obtaining a status which might in reality reflect the
essence of Muslim community.
96. It’s worthwhile to mention that with the purpose of ensuring freedom of a personality to profess
religion or belief, in accordance with the international commitments, Georgia undertakes responsibility
to furnish upon request of believers’ community professing or ready to profess their belief within the
constitutional framework of their respective states the recognition of such a form of religious status
which isn’t in contravention with basics of professed religion. For example the application with the
signatures of over 9000 belivers has been left without attention.
97. If one looks at the whole specter of rights and freedoms of the Muslim community of Georgia, a
partially unprotected nature of community’s religious life organizational side from representatives of a
group of public servants can be marked. In spite of the fact that many international documents
underscore that the right to religious freedom or conviction includes freedom of “personally or jointly,
publicly or privately….profess his/her own religious convictions in the spheres vital for religious
experience”, legal state protection of religious life of Muslims has been a problem so far.
98. Substantiation isn’t suffice in the absence of equal registration rights for each religious group to
announce that the state fully implements international commitments and ensures equal capabilities for
each group in the state. The example of AGM registration and denial to register “the Highest Religious
Council” as a legal entity of public law manifests that there is a necessity to perfect equal rules for
everyone without any exception. Notwithstanding the declaration of equality of religious groups there
are some testimonies of existing differences, exceptions, restrictions and preferences based on religion
or conviction and having as an aim belittling of recognition, utilization or realization of a status based on
equality of human rights and basic freedoms in connection with the Muslim community of Georgia.
Minarets of mosques - as an example of “permitted or not”.
99. On its part the situation which continues to develop around minarets construction for the
majority of mosques in the region of Kvemo Kartli, more precisely their “siege” related to the fact
“permitted or not” isn’t fair, justified and expedient in a democratic society because it’s has been
“fabricated” by the state. Until nowadays the state has been “urging” Muslim community to commit
violations and presumably to be responsible for consequences exclusively on the basis of conviction, in
spite of the fact that AGM representatives maintain that problems of the mosques have been resolved
once and for good.
100. For example, presumably innocent request of Farkhali village dwellers (in 1992 the name was
changed for Talaveri, in spite of the fact that dwellers were against) to procure permit for maintenance
and restoration of Mosques for religious services has been turned from simple formality into a lever
against freedom of religion and interreligious confrontation16. The fact is obvious that the climate of
interference, partially inaction and partly suppression on the part of the state and some representatives of
the dominant Orthodox Church have turned the Constitution of the country and international
commitments of the state into nothing.
101. From all described above it becomes quite apparent that the state hasn’t found the way out of the
situation yet in which it itself is “manufacturing” breaches by dint of manipulation with at first glance
innocent formalities. Muslim community has some objections to the condition when legislation in place
still allows an interference having far-reaching effects by regional authorities, administrative or church
representatives (in this case a representative of the church who possesses an ecclesiastic rank in clerical
hierarchy of the Georgian Patriarchate) in the issues of Muslim community’s religious freedom, and vest
them with the right of “Grand arbitrariness”. By maintaining that the ruling made in connection with this
situation is a violation of the Constitution of Georgia, it’s necessary to distinguish several features
inherent to the scheme of obtaining of a right to open, maintain and reconstruct mosques, which causes
objections by a group of citizens of Georgia. It’s also worth dwelling on them because they have wider
consequences than other schemes of ruling, for instances engaging public servants into the structuring of
a religious Muslim organization, which also impedes religious life.
102. It’s rather presumable that the representatives of regional and local authorities are “unaware” and
haven’t delivered a response yet whether they have the right to estimate appropriateness of illegal
actions in the village of Talaveri (historically Farkhali) on the part of representatives of clerical figures
of the titular religion and whether they have the right to stop these illegal activities.
103. The right to freedom of religion guaranteed by the Georgia’s Constitution excludes any
arbitrariness of the state related to the issue of defining whether religious convictions or methods are
legitimate, by means of which this convictions are expressed. In case with the Farkhali mosque the state
structures such as regional and local authorities put under doubt legitimacy of the mosques restoration
which is over 100 years old. It’s important to note that
16. Only strong consolidation of local dwellers around the issue of permit for the construction of mosques, multiple
notification of diplomatic corps, plural appeal to human rights protecting bodies, engagement of the Ombudsmen Sozar
Subari made possible to complete construction of the mosque.
AGM is staffed generally with such representatives of authorities. It’s very important to stress that the
state officials actually were inactive and could by no means react to the above-mentioned situation,
when off the record it was necessary to obtain a permit for construction or restoration of the mosque in
the Village of Talaveri on the condition of a positive “review” from the clerics belonging to the different
religion (Orthodox Eparchy of Georgia is implied).
104. Due to the existence of a legal status only in NGO “AGM” which at this moment doesn’t possess
real influence and authority in the regions of compact settlement of Muslims for carrying out activities
of religious community in practice and due to the diversity of means by which the state can violate
rights of a the religious community by dint of AGM, a number of commitments undertaken by Georgia
105. Ensuring access to some form of a legal status for one group of public servants and Muslims who
will be allowed to carry out the whole specter of religious activities and the other group won’t be
granted such a possibility-this status doesn’t coincide with the criteria of international norms. At first
this situation is in contravention with the European Convention of Human Rights of the Council of
Europe because such restrictions don’t give a possibility to practice vital religious functions. Refusal to
grant the required status means placing restrictions on the right to profess religion which is in
disagreement with article 9 of the European Convention.
The Interviews conducted amongst the Muslim religious community of Azerbaijanis gives a right
to arrive at the following conclusions and recommendations:
106. Monitoring group having analyzed general condition of Muslims arrived at the decision that on
the part of public servants occurs real intervention in the religious affairs which directly implies
interference of the state and is breaching the Constitution of Georgia and international norms.
107. It can’t be acceptable that the opinion of Muslim community’s religious figures hasn’t been
taken into account as of yet and there is no seeking of a compromise.
108. A real democratic society purports religious pluralism on mandatory grounds, absence of which
in Georgia is affirmed by the current confrontation on the internal confessional level in the country and
absence of a consensus and agreement with spiritual religious leaders and Muslim community in
109. Situation around Muslim community requires “pluralism, patience and broad thinking without
which democratic society can’t exist and cultural differences of religious majority and minority also
must be taken into account. In the process of integration in which the government invests a lot of efforts,
it’s vital to retain respect for distinctions in the sphere of culture and religion. But everything is placed
under doubt and becomes illusory when genuine religious pluralism inherent to the notion of a
democratic society isn’t taken into consideration and is only partially protected and this is undoubtedly
observed in terms of the Muslim community of Georgia. Existing disguised restrictions, suppression of
expression of a will can’t be justified in any situation by an urgent public necessity and restricting
measures are by no means proportionate to a pursued legal goal.
110. There’s a requirement in Georgia to work out a rational, constitutional approach towards the
regulation of Muslim community’s religious life as concerns establishment of peace and harmony on
inter-confessional level as well as between religious confessions and communities of the country.
Apendix 1. The law on “Registration of Religious Organizations”
Article 1. To introduce to the Civil Code of Georgia (Parliamentary newspaper N 31, 24 July 1997, page
1) the following amendments:
1. Part one article 1509:
a) Subparagraph “b” to be stipulated in the following version:
b) The Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Georgia-recognized as a
legal entity of the public law by the Constitutional Concordat of Georgia”.
b) After the subparagraph B, enter the subparagraph “C” of the following content:
c) Religious unions stipulated by the article 1509 of the given Code.
2. To enter article 15091 into the Code with the following contents
“Article 15091 the procedure of the registration of religious unions.
1. Religious unions can be registered as a legal entity of public law.
2. The first part of the given article doesn’t restrict the rights of religious entities to be registered as a
non-entrepreneurial (non-commercial) legal entity or conduct the activities as an unregistered union
stipulated by the present code.
3. Registration of religious unions is conducted by the National Agency of Public Register functioning
under of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia.
4. National agency of the Public register functioning under of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia is
entitled to register as an entity of public law religious movements as legal entities of public law
historically connected with Georgia or those religious movements which are recognized as religions
by the legislation of the countries, members of the Council of Europe.
5. In conjunction with a religious union registered as a legal entity of public law the law of Georgia on
“Legal Entity of Public Law” doesn’t have effect”.
6. As concern the registration of religious unions stipulated by the first part of the given article the rule
of registration of non-entrepreneurial (non-commercial) legal entities is in force and their authority
is set out by the second chapter of the first section of the given code”.
Article 2. Current Law takes effect from the moment of its publishing.
Appendix 2. An appeal of the members of “the Spiritual Councils of Georgian Muslims” to the
President of Georgia.
Members of “the Spiritual Councils of Georgian Muslims” and other clerics welcome and extend
support to the course conducted by you, directed at equality of rights of citizens and protection of their
religious-national values. We’ve been strongly delighted by your last speech in which you touch upon
Muslims, their rights and faith. We support and appreciate the idea of our country’s European
integration which we confirm by our active participation in Presidential, Parliamentary and local
We’d like to inform you that the conversation on the establishment of “the Administration of Georgian
Muslims” has recently started and this has made us glad. However errors in its bylaws, articles that are
remote from reality and ignoring of our suggestions at the end erased our enthusiasm. Involvement of
the authorities in the administration, arbitrary participation in the management of the entity of irrelevant
individuals, denial of any democratic norms and arbitrary elections have totally wiped out our hope and
trust existing in respect with the above-mentioned body. We consider that by such a way setting up of
the Muslim organization instead of handling problematic issues will yield a series of new problems.
We sincerely trust and are in hope that you will resolve the above-mentioned problems and as always
give us belief in fairness.
We continue to support our country and its President and ask all mighty God to give his blessing to
sunny Georgia, to unite the country, preserve its resilience, socio-economic power, mutual respect
between nationalities, religions and brotherly love.
With sincere respect “the Highest Council of Spiritual Figures of Georgian Muslims” and clerics.
1. Editor of the newspaper “Akhli-beit- Rizvan Ismailov
2. Chairman of the Society “Akhli-beit-Rasim Mamedov
3. Akhund of Damia Georarkhi mosque- Mirgusein Asadov
4. Editor of the newspaper “Iman”-Ramin Idigov
5. Chairman of the Society “Akhli-beit” hikmati-Namig Husseinov
6. Dashtapa mosque akhund-Eldaniz Sadikhov
7. Imir hassan mosque akhund-Orkhan Abbasov
8. Akhund Elchin Dashdanov in the villages of Azizkend and Tazakend
9. Marneuli district mullah-Mirfaig Khadazade
10. Kamil Muradov-teacher in the mosque
11. Akhund- Elchin Mamedov
12. Akhund Namig Bairamov of Dmanisi district
13. Akhund Fariz Husseinov, Aklimakhudlo village
14. Akhund Chingiz Aliev, Agametli village
15. Akhund Gadir Piriev, Baidar village
16. Akhund Rashad Aliev, Saral village
17. Akhund Iakub Seidov, Gachagan village
18. Akhund Israt Akhmedov, Dzveli-kveshi village
19. Akhund Magamed Husseinov, Tsurtavi village
20. Akhund Vugar Fatiev
21. Tazekend village teacher-Chingiz Suleimanov
22. Akhund Sabin Dzhaffarov-Akaurta village
23. Akhund Sakhib Rasulov, Arakel village
24. Akhund Elmin Bairamov,Arakel village
25. Akhund Anar Nurmamedov, Kiziladjilo village
26. Taimez Talibov-spiritual cousellor
27. Akhund of Marneuli district-Hajji Hajiev
28. Akhund Nasimi Mansurov, Dzhandari village
29. Akhund Ragif Aliev, Baitali village
30. Tadzhir A. Vergiev
31. Akhund-Makhmud Akhmedov
32. Mullah Mageram
Appendix 3. Appeal to the society, the editor-in-chief of the journal “Akhli-beit”, a member of “the
Highest Religious Council”, the head of Organization of Protection Rights of Religious and National
In the end of 2010 the Muslims of Georgia became witnesses of some new developments. Without any
notification and consent of spiritual and religious leaders, intelligentsia and the public, setting up of “the
Administration of Georgian Muslims” seriously frustrated the people. The essence of discontent was
that amongst the founders of this entity wasn’t a single religious figure.
The founders became public servants and the employees of various establishments and this aroused
some suspicion with clerics and the populace. Thus spiritual leaders and clerics presenting the Muslim
religious leadership held several meetings in different Tbilisi districts with participation of circa 60
religious figures, teachers of Koran and elected 15 members of the “Highest Religious Council”.
1. Hajji Rizvan Ismailov
2. Hajji Rasim Mamedov
3. Hajji Mirgusein Asadov
4. Hajji Aziz Nabiev
5. Hajji Ramin Igidov
6. Kerbalai Namig Guseinov
7. Mashadi Rasim Gasimov
8. Mashadi Elchin Aliev
9. Mashadi Vidadi Gurbanov
10. Hajji Faig Nabiev
11. Hajji Ifrat Akhmedov
12. Karbalai Firdovsi Gasimov
13. Hajji Gurban Murguzov
14. Hajji Rakhid Kerimov
15. Mashadi Azer Aliev
The members elected to the “Highest Religious Council” taking into account religious requirements and
desire of the Muslims, worked out and readied new bylaws. The goal was to meet official state figures
and make them hear out voice of the people. Through this the members of “the Highest Religious
Council” spoke out, notified and criticized the bylaws and the founders of the administration created by
certain public figures.
Having noticed a negative reaction on the part of “the Highest Religious Council” as concerns a new
administrations, some founders of AGM via certain persons, insisted on a meeting with the members of
“the Highest Religious Council”. After some time this meeting was held in the town of Rustavi in the
cabinet of the Deputy Envoy to the Kvemo Kartli G.Iusubov. According to Hajji Rizavan Ismailov, after
hearing a negative position of the clerics on AGM, G. Iusubov proposed the following ”I in the capacity
of a founder and an authorized entity give you a permit to rectify errors and amend the parts which
doesn’t satisfy you in the bylaws. We’ll present it to you in a rectified manner. You will run a new
AGM in the future”. Representatives of SACM and religious figures from “the Highest Religious
Council” showed some suspicion to this suggestion but still decided to make corrections in the AGM
charter”. After a certain time span the charter was worked out and the following amendments were
1. The organizers of AGM must transfer all their authority via the State Public Register to the
members of “the Highest Religious Council”.
2. There is a gross error in the bylaws, where mufti is an administrator and a sheikh the second person,
this is a large disrespect to the religious traditions, what’s why positions must be changed (i.e.
3. AGM must be run not by the founders but those who will be democratically elected by “the Highest
4. According to the bylaws the authority of AGM will be transferred to the members of “the Highest
Besides this founded suggestions some relevant written recommendations were submitted to the noted
official. The process of waiting and repeated discussions continued for several months and to our great
regret ended with the result that none of these suggestions has been approved. On the contrary very
ridiculous step was made. Several hours prior to sheiks elections appointed for 7 June, 2011 some
religious figures received sms from somebody named Mamuka. This message urged them to partake in
sheik’s elections tomorrow. The messages suggested to elect a chief in a” circle” and on 7 June at 12
o’clock come to the Tbilisi office with the election minutes of a new administration. On 6 June several
members of “the Highest Religious Council” at the Ministers’ Cabinet building on the meeting with the
Deputy Minister of Diaspora Irakli Nadiradze asked Gusein Iusubov about elections related sms
messages, he answered that he was unaware of this and asked for some time to clarify the matter. After
several hours Gussein Iusubov invited clerics to this “shameful” elections and answering the questions
of spiritual leaders ”How can we go to the elections without any amendments to the bylaws? Where are
your promises?” Gussein Iusubov resplied “take part in the elections and afterwards you’ll be able to
introduce amendments yourself”. Clerics dissatisfied with these events, with the purpose to bring
elections to a halt and not allow this game to go on, on 7 June held a meeting with the Presidential
Advisor Mubariz Garaev. Having become fully conscious of this problem Mubariz Garaev suggested to
the clerics to be patient and did nothing afterwards. On the second day of the elections clerics sent a
letter to the President. At the same time they met a regional governor David Kirkitadze at the building of
the Marneuli local government and expressed deep concern on this issue. Regretfully there was not any
answer neither from the Deputy Minister of Diaspora I. Nadiradze nor the Governor D.Kirkitadze.” The
Highest Religious Council” appealed to the President with a letter. Some time passed clerics and the
people with great hope expect a positive answer. The most painful points of these events is that a person
“sheikh” elect doesn’t have a religious education and amongst the population is notorious by obscure
and criminal past, his leadership is perceived by the people as an insult. Every nation esteems its
religion and wants to see an educated, devoted and respected by the people leader. Neither the Georgian
Orthodox Church nor the religious movements saw such events that happened with us. I as a member of
“the Highest Religious Council” of the Muslims of Georgia trust that we’ll see the triumph of truth.
Recently we’ve noticed that the leader of the country has been furnished with some erroneous
information. Azerbaijanis of Georgia have always supported and will support policy of the President
Mikheil Saakashvili and his team. One more time we’d like to put forward a plea to the honorable
President to avert a cleavage in the Muslim community by his sagacious guidelines.
One more time let’s inform you that some public servants and intelligentsia in inverted commas carry
out propaganda against clerics, it’s necessary to curb the spreading of negative ideas because this is
exceeding the boundaries of all legal and morale norms. The people that have been always devoted to
the state are forced to accept the administration created by the vehicle of different types of machinations
and pressure. We think that these events will inflict damage on an international image of democratic
Georgia. We must all be sure that the all mighty, the sole Allah of Muslims and Christians isn’t content
with this condition. Let’s not cause his wrath upon the country which is facing sufficinet territorial and
some other types of problems.
I, Rizvan Ismailov, a member of “the Highest Religious Council” and the head of recently established
organization protecting the rights of religious and national minorities “Vichdan” have been noticing
many legal violations in the recent processes and consider my duty to deliver information to the local
and international community, the Ombudsmen’s office, human rights protecting international
organizations , the European Union countries leaders and call upon them to aid Muslims in their
resolution of the problems to the extent of the means available.
Hajji Rizvan Ismailov
Editor-in-chief of “Akhli-beit” magazine, a member of “the Highest Religious Council”, the head of the
Organization on Protection of the Rights of Religious and National Minorities “Vichdan”.
Appendix 4. Registration document "Management of Muslims of Georgia"
Appendix 5. Appeal to the President of Georgia spiritual leaders of the Kvemo
Appendix 6. The collection of signatures to the public for access to the President