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Georgia: Orthodox scandal

Categories: Central Asia & Caucasus, Georgia, Freedom of Speech, Religion

In the most religious country of the South Caucasus where the Orthodox Church's Patriarch can even encourage a baby boom [1], criticizing the clergy is still somewhat taboo. Lampooning them, however, is even worse and fraught with danger, as This is Tbilisi Calling reports [2].

The Georgian police are reported to have tracked down the thought criminals responsible for “indecent and insulting” satirical videos which targeted the head of the Orthodox Church and caused a nationwide scandal in this fervently religious country. A statement from the Interior Ministry identified the culprits as a school pupil and a student. […]

Evolutsia, examines the larger issue as it relates to the power of the Church and freedom of speech. In an op-ed piece on the newly launched English-language news blog, Inge Snip sounds the alarm bells [3].

One of the most fundamental freedoms is, I believe, the freedom of speech. Freedom of speech enables a country to show to every citizen that their opinion is allowed to be heard, no matter the content. In addition, a true democracy allows the mocking of important figures in society, and by doing so, it shows its maturity.

[…]

To conclude, there is no grounds for investigating this issue, nor should there be; however, the law enforcement agencies did the opposite, because there is some kind of popular demand. As a student of law, this is easily one of the most ridiculous grounds for any judicial investigation I have ever heard.