A revival of the Orthodox faith in Georgia appears to be coinciding with an uptick in discrimination against the country’s Muslim population.
For centuries, Georgians have defined their existence in ‘us-versus-them’ terms, as a struggle to survive as a tiny Orthodox Christian nation in a predominantly Muslim neighborhood. This concept has been shaped in part by the Ottoman and Persian Empires’ past control of parts of Georgia. But this definition of national identity now seems to leave little room for Georgia’s estimated 433,784 Muslim citizens, roughly 9.9 percent of Georgia’s overall population.
“The attitude which is somehow really dominant in Georgian society is that being Georgian means being Orthodox,” said sociologist Iago Kachkachishvili. “The meaning of being Orthodox is not the pure religious meaning. It is very close to a national identity as well.”
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Molly Corso is a freelance journalist who also works as editor of Investor.ge, a monthly publication by the American Chamber of Commerce in Georgia.