Muslims in Batumi Buy the Land to Build a New Mosque
On September 7, “Foundation to Support Building of a New Mosque in Batumi” purchased the land for building the mosque.
In Achara, Muslims compose up to half of the population. Despite this, Muslims have not had enough space to pray for years. The only mosque in Batumi gets overloaded during the Friday’s prayers and other religious rituals, thus hundreds of Muslims have to stay outside the mosque, praying in the street, as the mosque cannot accommodate all of them.
Since the 1990s, the Muslim community has been actively asking the government to allocate some territory in order to build a new mosque. But neither local nor central government has adequately assessed the importance of the problem. Hence, the issue of building a new mosque always faced artificial barriers.
Muslim parishioners in Adjara are concerned by the fact that the government has used the issue of building a new mosque for political speculations. Precisely, former prime-minister Bidzina Ivanishvili promised to build a new mosque in Batumi several times since 2012. However, the promise was never fulfilled. In 2014, the former prime-minister Irakli Gharibashvili also met Muslims and promised them to study the issue.
The real needs and demands of the majority of Muslim population have never been reflected in the reports or official statements of the State Agency for Religious Issues. The Agency exclusively cooperates with the Administration of Muslims of all Georgia (AMAG) and provides them with the State funding. In 2014, after the visit of prime-minister Irakli Gharibashvili in Batumi, instead of asking for building a new mosque, AMAG officially addressed and requested the extension and reconstruction of existing mosque in Batumi, also purchasing additional buildings for the religious school and Muftiate’s residential house. Consequently, the main demand of Muslim community proved to be ignored. Based on the mentioned request, the State transferred residence for Mufti and medressa buildings worth millions of Georgian Lari to AMAG. Since then, two years have passed and the building of a religious school still has not been opened.
In February 2016, Muslim community collected 12,000 signatures in Batumi and submitted to the local and central government, asking for the territory to build a new mosque. The request was ignored again by the State.
Finally, Muslims decided to purchase the land for a new mosque with their own resources and with the help of some charity donations. TDI provided legal aid to the foundation established for the mentioned purpose.
TDI will continue to provide legal aid for the Muslim community in the process of obtaining the building permit for a new mosque. In case of creating illegal impediments, TDI will use all the existing and necessary legal mechanisms to protect the constitutional rights of the Muslim community.
Photo credits: Manana Kveliashvili/Netgazeti