Pankisi Gorge’s traditional Muslim mosques won’t register youth marriages

Photo reflects a traditional wedding ceremony in Pankisi which is mainly inhabited by Muslims. Photo by Panksi Facebook page., 25 Mar 2016 - 13:03, Tbilisi,Georgia

Traditional Islamic mosques in Georgia’s eastern, mainly Muslim-populated Pankisi Gorge, will no longer register youth marriages, announced a top, local representative today. 

Khaso Khangoshvili, head of the Panksi Old Council told Georgian news agency Interpressnews the issue had been thoroughly discussed and the majority of people living in the region agreed marriage involving underage girls was  incorrect.

Khangoshvili said the Gorge was mainly inhabited by followers of traditional Islam and this group of people would respect the change. 

Imams [worship leaders] of traditional Muslim mosques will no longer register early marriages due to a number of reasons,” said Khangoshvili.

These reasons included: 

  • A minor girl, aged younger than 18, is still a pupil and the burden of having a family is too heavy for her; 
  • Based on our traditions women have many obligations and for a minor it is a huge challenge to cope with these; and 
  • Georgia’s legislation prohibits early marriages.

However the Gorge was also home to a smaller group of Wahhabits, who practiced different approach to Islam. 

Mosque in Duisi village, Pankisi Gorge. Photo by  Pankisi Facebook page. 

We [Traditional Muslims] have come to a joint decision and we will have our way, while Wahhabits have their own views and attitudes,” Khangoshvili added. 
  • Wahhabism is a religious movement or branch of Sunni Islam. It has been variously described as "ultraconservative", "austere"," fundamentalist", "puritanical" and as an Islamic reform movement to restore "pure monotheistic worship" by scholars and advocates. 
  • The Pankisi Gorge is mainly inhabited by Kists; people who came from the North Caucasus Dagestan Republic, which is currently under Russian control. 
  • At present there are about 8,000 Kists in Pankisi Gorge who mainly live in Duisi, Jokolo, Birkiani, Jibakhevi, Tsalakhani and Omalo villages. 
  • Together with the Kists, the Gorge is populated by ethnic Georgians from the mountainous regions, also by Chechen people and several others.