Armenian priests attacked in Tbilisi: Church officials see ‘ethnic and religious grounds’ behind the crime -
Armenianow - A pre-planned attack was carried out against representatives of the Armenian Holy Echmiadzin Church in Tbilisi, the Georgian Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church said on Sunday.
According to a statement, the July 19 attack was motivated by ethnic and religious hatred. It reportedly stemmed from an argument over parking space involving a Georgian woman who accused an Armenian priest of blocking her way.
A verbal altercation involving other Georgians that Armenian church officials say showed ‘aggressive behavior’ and tried to attack them was followed by a larger fight two hours later after one of the men called about 50 others.
Some of the men were reportedly armed with cold weapons as they approached the church and got into a scuffle with the clerics and employees of the diocese, all the time verbally insulting Armenians. People attending a Christening ceremony inside the church came out into the yard and the men attacked them, too.
“Women and children, shocked by what they had seen, hid in the church,” the statement reads. “We must note that a group of nicely dressed people were watching the incident.”
As a result of the attack, clerics and employees of the Armenian Diocese got physical injuries. One of the men tore a cross off one priest and took it with him.
The Armenian Church called on law-enforcement bodies to thoroughly investigate what happened on Saturday as a crime committed on ethnic and religious grounds.
According to Democracy & Freedom Watch, however, a spokesperson for the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs, said that they did not view the conflict as one that was committed on such grounds. The Ministry said an investigation had been launched.