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A Mysterious Mass Conversion From Islam to Orthodox Christianity in Georgia
http://theorthodoxchurch.info ^ | 19/9/13 | Ian Hamel

Posted on 09/19/2013 3:01:18 PM PDT by bad company

In 1991, 75% of Adjarians in Georgia were Muslims. Today, they have become 75% Orthodox Christians. How can these conversions be explained, which is apparently unique in the world? “What time do services begin at Saint Nicholas in Batumi on Sunday morning?” The question embarrasses the employee of the President Plaza, one of the largest institutions in the city, a seat of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara and the Iranian consulate. It is true that in the province of Georgia, washed by the Black Sea, the population speaks little English. All signs, such as signs in the streets, are in Georgian or Russian. The employee eventually suggests joining the Church of Saint Nicholas at 9:00 AM. In fact, the Service works strangely like a self-service. The faithful men, women (head always covered) and children come and go as they please, after long embracing of the icons and after they have crossed themselves multiple times. This curious to and fro takes most of the morning. The priest can hardly talk to us, since he speaks only Russian and Georgian. A student, smiling, who graduated in the language of Shakespeare, came to our rescue. We ask him the question: “How is it that the majority of the inhabitants of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara in Georgia, have in two decades abandoned Islam for Orthodoxy?” The girl apologizes, caught unaware, and prefers to dodge quickly.

Ottoman and Russian province

But the facts are there, Adjara, conquered by the Ottomans in the seventeenth century, was overwhelmingly Muslim. In 1878, this province of 3000 km2 falls into the lap of the Russian Empire. In 1991, after the fall of communism and the independence of Georgia, Adjara seceded. Until 2004, the “independent” Republic is ruled by a dictator, a Muslim, Aslan Abashidze, now on the run. Since then Adjara (400,000) has returned to the bosom of Georgia. According to official documents, in 1991, 75% of Adjarians were Muslims. They are now 75% Orthodox. How can this mass conversion be explained? In a long interview published in December 2012, Metropolitan Dimitri of Batumi (the capital of Adjara), also nephew of Ilia II, Patriarch of Georgia, says he was appointed parish priest of St. Nicholas in Batumi in 1986. At that time, there was only one Orthodox church in Batumi.

“It is God’s will”

Dimitri states that “the metamorphosis of an entire region, the conversion from Islam to Orthodoxy, or rather the return to basics, to the faith of their ancestors,” took place before his eyes. On 13 May 1991 “5000 Muslims and atheists became Orthodox. The same year the Church opened a school in Khulo, an ecclesiastical high school named Saint Andrew, the first religious high school in the USSR.” The Metropolitan of Batumi says that Adjarians were forcibly converted to Islam by the Ottomans though, in fact, they remained Christian at heart. According to his statement, they continued to secretly wear a cross, they painted Easter eggs, and they retained the icons in their homes. Dimitri says that many priests come from Muslim families. The rector of the seminary is the grandson of a mullah, formed in Istanbul. How does he explain the conversions brought forward on the website Provoslavie i mir (Orthodoxy and the World): “It is God’s will. It is a miracle of God, for unexplained reasons that could not have been predicted,” says Dimitri.

Missionaries from Turkey

The Great Mosque of Batumi is a few blocks from the Church of Saint Nicholas, near the port. First observation: it is actually a lot less crowded than the Orthodox place of worship. Nevertheless, some local publications were denouncing a “return to Islam supported by Turkey.” But during our stay in Adjara, we have not seen this “Islamic Turkish fairly consistent presence” due to “the influx of missionaries,” including disciples of the Turkish preacher Süleyman Hilmi Tunahan. The Sarpi border crossing with Turkey is only twenty kilometers from Batumi. If the capital of Adjara became overwhelmingly Christian, however, the small villages in the mountains of Adjara have not denied the Prophet. The village of Khulo, more than two hours away from the Black Sea, has a mosque and a madrasa. Some seniors continue to speak Turkish to us, but we cannot verify it.

A national state and Orthodox

For the visitor from the outside, the two religions appear to coexist smoothly. The Adjarians tell you without hesitation directions to the church or the nearest mosque. Nobody mentioned any persecution vis-à-vis minority religions. However, these mass conversions remain taboo. Especially as the other Muslims of Georgia (about 10% of the population) do not seem to adopt Orthodoxy as quickly. Including Kistins, ethnic Chechens near the border with Chechnya and Dagestan, and Shiites in eastern Georgia, neighboring Azerbaijan. “We must understand that the Orthodox Church is a fundamental pillar of our national identity. In the past, we have been invaded by all our great neighbors, the Persians, the Ottomans, the Russians. If there had not been the cement of religion, there would be even more people of Georgia,” said Alina Okkropiridze, former journalist and translator. After seventy years of state atheism, at the time of the USSR, Zviad Gamsakhurdia, the first Georgian president, wanted to create a “national and Orthodox” state. His successor, Eduard Shevardnadze, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the USSR, took care “to announce his conversion to Orthodoxy, to be baptized and to choose as his spiritual director Patriarch Ilia II, the head of the Georgian Church since 1977,” says the Swiss website Religioscope.

Dismantling of a minaret

Clearly, over the last two decades, the powers, the media, and nationalist parties have been saying that a true Georgian Orthodoxy must be foremost. Is it enough to explain, as stated by Metropolitan Dimitri, “the return to the faith of their ancestors” of the Adjarians? At the end of August, in the district of Adiguéni, in southwest Georgia, the authorities dismantled a minaret on the grounds that customs duties were not paid for construction materials. Muslims who opposed the destruction of the building were arrested. “An ‘Orthodox’ way to do that is to aim for the exile of the Muslim people,” complains one local site in an article titled “Georgia: the minaret of discord.” Translated by John Sanidopoulos. (As my French is limited, any corrections in the translation of this article is welcomed.)


TOPICS: Current Events; Islam; Orthodox Christian
KEYWORDS: georgia; orthodoxy

1 posted on 09/19/2013 3:01:18 PM PDT by bad company
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To: bad company; zot

Probably 400 years of secret Christianity; similar to how many Soviet communists were secretly Christian during the Leninist dictatorship of the party.


2 posted on 09/19/2013 3:06:37 PM PDT by GreyFriar (Spearhead - 3rd Armored Division 75-78 & 83-87)
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To: bad company

I suspect that a lot of ordinary people remain Muslim, because the alternative is to get their heads cut off. Christianity is a far more attractive religion for everyone but the idiots and the guys with the power.

In an all-Muslim state, there is presumably also a good deal of ignorance. They have no idea what Christianity really is, and no one is allowed to tell them.

In other words, Christianity wins by conversion, and Islam wins by conquest and enslavement.


3 posted on 09/19/2013 3:07:34 PM PDT by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: bad company

I have read a lot of interviews from people who are in the business of ‘The Great Commission”, and from what I’ve heard, we would conquer Islam were it not for the mass killings and the general ‘driving out’ of Christians. When put in the arena of ideas, Christian truth wins out over Mohammed’s ravings.

Muslims have to block the Bible by censoring it, or spreading rumors about Muslims dying after reading it.


4 posted on 09/19/2013 3:08:37 PM PDT by Viennacon
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To: GreyFriar

Nailed it


5 posted on 09/19/2013 3:14:52 PM PDT by GraceG
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To: bad company

Tired of raping women? Tired of beheading men? Tired of not having any money or a chance of making any money? Tired of a god who hates rather than a God who loves?


6 posted on 09/19/2013 3:16:54 PM PDT by miss marmelstein ( Richard Lives Yet!)
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To: miss marmelstein
Unfortunately, I'm a skeptic.

After learning what taquia is and having a lying mulatto bastard (but I repeat myself) in the white house tends to make me be wary.

I don't doubt the power of the Holy Spirit, but I also believe the muzzies would NEVER allow a conversion ratio that large ... not without some strings attached.

7 posted on 09/19/2013 3:21:51 PM PDT by knarf (I say things that are true ... I have no proof ... but they're true)
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To: bad company

Atlanta, Lick Skillet or Ludowici?


8 posted on 09/19/2013 3:22:05 PM PDT by BwanaNdege ("Life is short. It's even shorter if you suggest going out for pizza on your anniversary" Peter Egan)
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To: GreyFriar

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was apparently a secret Jew. These secret faiths despite outward conversion to Islam are the correct response to the murderous heresy of conversion by the sword.


9 posted on 09/19/2013 3:23:52 PM PDT by donmeaker (Youth is wasted on the young.)
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To: bad company

There are many people in the region with similar stories. I’ve heard something like this from people from Turkey.


10 posted on 09/19/2013 3:25:08 PM PDT by OldNewYork (Biden '13. Impeach now.)
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To: GreyFriar

When the Germans approached Moscow, Stalin ordered that the churchs be reopened. The Orthodox Church bought at least one T-34 Tank Battalion for the Soviet Union to show its gratitude.


11 posted on 09/19/2013 3:26:10 PM PDT by donmeaker (Youth is wasted on the young.)
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To: BwanaNdege

Hog Liver road.


12 posted on 09/19/2013 3:26:48 PM PDT by Vigilantcitizen
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To: knarf

I completely understand, knarf.


13 posted on 09/19/2013 3:31:38 PM PDT by miss marmelstein ( Richard Lives Yet!)
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To: bad company
How can these conversions be explained

Because islime is a fascist political movement that robs the individual of free choice and their very soul.

Jesus is the Lord of those who are Free or yearn to break free of their chains.

Just as God gave us free will, a simple guide to good vs evil is this: If you are compelled to an act by force or threat of death/imprisonment then it is evil. If you are compelled to act by reason, love, or free consent, then it is good. Demons will threaten you. Angels will just nag you.

14 posted on 09/19/2013 3:35:24 PM PDT by Sirius Lee (All that is required for evil to advance is for government to do "something")
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To: bad company

So when does Islam declare Holy War on Georgia?


15 posted on 09/19/2013 3:53:31 PM PDT by jeffc (The U.S. media are our enemy)
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To: null and void

I read the headline twice before I realized this wasn’t talking about here!


16 posted on 09/19/2013 3:53:34 PM PDT by Shimmer1 (Every time a liberal gets pissed off an angel gets their wings.)
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To: bad company
For the benefit of the Arizona Republic, I would like to point out that this Georgia is the one in Asia, north of Armenia, south of Russia. It is not the Georgia between Alabama and South Carolina in the United States of America.
17 posted on 09/19/2013 3:55:19 PM PDT by righttackle44 (Take scalps. Leave the bodies as a warning.)
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To: bad company

Welcome, brothers.

The Lord works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform!


18 posted on 09/19/2013 3:56:48 PM PDT by Dick Bachert (Ignorance is not bliss. It is the road to serfdom.)
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To: Dick Bachert

It would be even more miraculous if 75 percent of libertarians became Christians.


19 posted on 09/19/2013 4:03:10 PM PDT by heye2monn
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To: bad company

This may bw conversion, but it is not regeneration, is it?


20 posted on 09/19/2013 4:20:16 PM PDT by imardmd1 (Fiat Lux)
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To: miss marmelstein

People everywhere are hungry for the Truth.


21 posted on 09/19/2013 4:35:53 PM PDT by Farmer Dean (stop worrying about what they want to do to you,start thinking about what you want to do to them)
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To: bad company

I wonder how much of this change is mass migration vs. mass conversion.


22 posted on 09/19/2013 4:42:05 PM PDT by muir_redwoods (Don't fire until you see the blue of their helmets)
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To: GreyFriar
Probably 400 years of secret Christianity; similar to how many Soviet communists were secretly Christian during the Leninist dictatorship of the party.

Yes. Covert Christianity has survived persecution in many countries.

23 posted on 09/19/2013 6:37:43 PM PDT by zot
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To: bad company

Taqiyya, pretending to convert and becoming undercover Muslims? Because of taqiyya, you can never believe or trust a Muslim.


24 posted on 09/20/2013 12:50:13 PM PDT by JimRed (Excise the cancer before it kills us; feed & water the Tree of Liberty! TERM LIMITS NOW & FOREVER!)
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