Breakaway Abkhazia’s parliament passed with its second reading draft law on “freedom of conscience and religious associations”, which, after it becomes the law, will allow religious groups to enjoy with the right to have legal status and right to property, a local official news agency, Apsnipress, reported on July 30.
The draft law, however, was passed with its second reading without its preamble after Abkhaz MPs failed to agree on its wording.
Preamble of the draft law, according to Apsnipress, says that Abkhazia is “secular state”, which respects “all the world religions: Christianity, Islam, Judaism and other religions, as well as traditional religions in Abkhazia, which represent integral part of spiritual life of people of the world and the people of Abkhazia.”
MP Said Kharazia was offering to add in preamble a formulation, stressing “special role” of the Orthodox Christian Church in the history of Abkhazia. The proposal, however, was not accepted by the parliamentary committee for education, culture and religion, which is a sponsor of the draft. Apsnipress reported that lawmakers agreed to pass the draft with its second reading without preamble and to further continue discussions about its wording before the third and final vote.
Although majority of residents of the breakaway region considers themselves to be Christians, there is also a large Muslim community in Abkhazia.