Ilia II Asks for Azeri Citizenship for Georgian Priest

The Georgian Catholicos Ilia II appealed to the authorities of Azerbaijan with a call to the citizenship of the priest Peter Humarashvili so that he could conduct church services in the Gakh church of St. George in the territory of Azerbaijan, home for the Ingiloys - minority having Georgian origin.

As stated in the Georgian Patriarchate's statement, Ilia II appealed to the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev 4 months ago. After receiving a positive response and with the consent of the Committee on Work with Religious Organizations of Azerbaijan, the worship in the Gakh church of St. George should be restored.

After June 21, 2015 there have been only two religious services – on August 28, 2015 and January 27, 2016. Currently, religious service in the Gakh region is interrupted. The previous rectors of the church of St. George - father Dmitry Tetruashvili and father Basilio - under various pretexts were denied the continuation of religious services in the territory of Azerbaijan.

Earlier, the Azerbaijani authorities accused two Georgian priests of illegal religious activity in the country, banning them to conduct the ceremony.

* About three quarters of the Ingiloys are Muslims (Sunni), and one quarter is Orthodox Christians. Many of them call themselves Georgians of the Ingiloian origin. The largest place of their compact residence is the villages of Aliabad and Mosul (the Zagatala region), Gakhingiloy and Alibey (the Gakh region).

The ethnic origin of the Ingiloys is still a matter of controversy, and researchers have no consensus on this issue. -02D-

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