Last Friday, a group of Orthodox priests reportedly led a mob of thousands in a violent attack on a small group of gay rights demonstrators in downtown Tbilisi, the capital of the former Soviet republic of Georgia.
The New York Times reports:
Carrying banners reading “No to mental genocide” and “No to gays,” the masses of mostly young men began by hurling rocks and eggs at the gay rights demonstrators.
The police pushed most of the demonstrators onto yellow minibuses to evacuate them from the scene, but, the attackers swarmed the buses, trying to break the windows with metal gratings, trash cans, rocks and even fists.
At least 12 people were reported hospitalized, including three police officers and eight or nine of the gay rights marchers.
“They wanted to kill all of us,” said Irakli Vacharadze, the head of Identoba, the Tbilisi-based gay rights advocacy group that organized the rally.
Nino Bolkvadze, 35, a lawyer for the group who was among the marchers, said that if they had not been close to the buses when the violence began, “we would all have been corpses.”
The article continues:
In a telephone interview, Mr. Vacharadze of Identoba said that priests from the Georgian Orthodox Church had led the charge that broke through a heavy police corridor.
“The priests entered, the priests broke the fences and the police didn’t stop them, because the priests are above the law in Georgia,” he said.
In a second article published yesterday, the Times reveals that the priests didn’t just break the fences down, but rather, some actually participated in the attacks:
Some of the priests leading the rock-throwing throngs who stormed past police cordons could be seen participating in the melee; one repeatedly slammed a stool into the windshield of one of several minibuses trying to carry the marchers to safety, while another punched marchers and tried to drag a driver out of a bus.
Bidzina Ivanishvili, Georgia’s prime minister, promised a swift response on the day of the attacks, but by Sunday there was little indication that the investigation was moving forward at all.
The terrifying attack was captured on video. Watch the entire thing, or as much of it as you’re able to stomach, in order to fully grasp the horror of the situation:
Religious extremism in all its forms is a cancer that must be eradicated.