We, the member organizations of the No to Phobia civil platform, would like to respond to the statement made by Metropolitan Petre Tsaava of Chkondidi during Rustavi 2 TV’s news program Kurieri on September 17.
Speaking about recent political developments in the country, the senior cleric said following the church service that in the 18th-19th centuries, French missionaries were deceitfully preaching Catholicism, whereas the Catholic population was regarded by their contemporaries in Georgia as people with depraved and immoral thinking. Just in this negative context, Metropolitan Petre mentioned Georgian presidential candidate, Salome Zourabichvili:
Metropolitan Petre Tsaava of Chkondidi: "We have a very interesting word in the Georgian vocabulary "Dapranguli” (Frenchified) and do you know, where it comes from? When French missionaries arrived in the 18th – 19th centuries to preach Catholicism, they deceived Georgian population, claiming that they were teaching philosophy. Georgian people from western Georgian regions of Guria and Samegrelo called them Dapranguli (Frenchified) that means people with depraved and immoral thinking. So, our Frenchified lady with her Frenchified thinking will not bring us any welfare.”
We suppose that the statement made by the cleric regarding the politician goes beyond any healthy criticism and acquires a xenophobic and anti-Catholic connotation that insults the Catholic Church and its parish as it contains discrimination on grounds of religion and nationality.
We would also like to focus on the issue of media responsibility. Coverage of similar xenophobic statements without any criticism and editorial comments, stressing discriminative nature of the statement, does not comply with high professional standards and ethical journalism.
We call on:
- The clerics and other public officials to avoid making the statements, which contain discrimination on religious, ethnic and other grounds;
- Media outlets to clearly note when circulating xenophobic or other discriminative statements made by public officials that similar comments may discriminate certain groups.
Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI)
Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI)
Georgia’s Reforms Associates (GRASS)