(Civil.Ge) — The Georgian Orthodox Church called on the authorities on May 15 “to promptly” adopt a law, which would “defend religious feelings” and “defend population from indecency”.
The Georgian Patriarchate said in the statement that “struggle against national values, as well as against the Georgian Orthodox Church is ongoing for several years already” and “the recent presentation of ‘book’ was part of the new plan developed for that purpose.”
The book, which the statement refers to and which is put in scare quotes, is Saidumlo Siroba – the name is a wordplay on the Georgian for Last Supper and its most widespread translation now is “Holy Crap”. Presentation of the highly-provocative book, written by a 20-year-old author, Erekle Deisadze, was held in Tbilisi-based Ilia State University in mid-April. Less than three week later, on May 3, a hardline Orthodox Christian groups, including Union of Orthodox Christian Parents, rallied outside the university condemning the book and demanding resignation of Ilia State University’s rector, Gigi Tevzadze, who they claimed was promoting “anti-Orthodox ideology” by allowing to hold the book’s promotional presentation in the university building. Next day a small group of campaigners held a demonstration – a counter-rally to the previous day’s protest, under the slogans “Freedom of Speech” and “No to Fascism”. The May 4 rally, however, was disrupted by hardline Orthodox Christian groups, which verbally and then physically assaulting demonstrators. A similar incident of smaller scale again took place outside the same university few days later and the the row eventually culminated into a fistfight during a live on-air talk show on Tbilisi-based Kavkasia TV late on May 7.
The Georgian Orthodox Church kept silence on the matter throughout these weeks. The first indication of its position, however, came just two days after the incident in Kavkasia TV, when Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Ilia II, awarded one of the priests, who is regarded as a spiritual leader of Union of Orthodox Christian Parents. The same priest was among those several clergies, who made their way into the Kavkasia TV studio together with several supporters, when the station