Georgian priest calls Jews 'persecutors of Christians.' Street, social media protests ensue
A protest rally was held in Kutaisi on December 10 with the slogan: “Kutaisi without anti-Semitism!” in response to the discriminatory statements of local high-ranking cleric, Metropolitan of Kutaisi-Gaenateli Ioanne Gamrekeli, against Jews and human rights activists.
Israeli Ambassador to Georgia Ran Gidor called on the Georgian authorities to condemn the anti-Semitic actions of the cleric.
The authorities have not yet reacted.
During a recent sermon, Metropolitan Ioanne Gamrekeli called Jews “persecutors of Christians” and drew parallels between Jews, “unbelievers” and human rights activists who criticize the church.
Gamrekeli said church critics “continue the path of the Jewish community”, adding a caveat that “this struggle is not determined by ethnicity, since it is about the struggle of non-believers against the church.”
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A group of local residents gathered for a protest in the center of Kutaisi, who said that the words of the priest did not express the opinion of the whole of Kutaisi.
Angry messages have been published on social media condemning the statement of Ioanne Gamrekeli.
However, another prominent clergyman, the head of the Trinity Church in Kutaisi, Archbishop Ilia Karkadze, came out in support of Gamrekeli, saying “there are Zionist groups that are on the side of the evil force of earthly processes.”
The Georgian Institute for Tolerance and Diversity (TDI) also protested against the anti-Semitic statements. In a statement from the institute, Gamrekeli’s sermon was called “extremely disturbing.”
TDI called on Ioanne Gamrekeli to apologize for his words.