#UnitedCVE: Q & A With Anne Azza Aly and Bennett Clifford

The Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) recently published another of my pieces on radicalisation in Georgia and once again, the research work of Bennett Clifford proved invaluable to support general observations I’ve also made as it pertains to the problem of radicalisation in Georgia. My recent Q & A with Bennett also proved interesting enough to merit posting it in full on this blog. But first up, however, is Anne Azza Aly, a Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) practitioner from Australia who I’ve met before at a Hedayah and Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) event I spoke at in December 2014.

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Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Roman Catholic Church, Tbilisi, Georgia

The week that's been was particularly refreshing in part because of the first workshop on social media and citizen journalism for national minorities in Georgia. There'll be a second next month, but the first comprised ethnic Armenian, Assyrian, Azeri, Russian, Ukrainian, and Yezidi citizens of Georgia. Among them was also Father Mikael Khachkalyan of the Armenian Catholic Church.

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Another visit to Tbilisi’s Catholic Armenians

As I mentioned in a previous post, a message posted to a mailing list saw me pay a visit to an Armenian Catholic center in Tbilisi. Although Armenians are mainly Apostolic, Catholic Armenians are still an important minority in both Armenia and Georgia. Today’s return visit wasn’t just to photograph the kids at the center, however. It was also to help them with their English language skills.

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Catholic Armenians in Tbilisi

One thing I like about Georgia is its diversity. Even though over 80 percent of the population is ethnic Georgian — albeit with diversity even among themselves — ethnic Azeris, at 6.5 percent of the population. and ethnic Armenians, at 5.7 percent, are the two largest minority communities. [...] So, when Molly Corso, an American journalist based in Tbilisi and currently researching an article on Catholic Armenians in Georgia, sent out the following message I was naturally interested.

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A Pagan Vardavar

It’s probably Armenia’s best loved celebration for many, although not for others who perilously walk the streets of any village, town or city in the country only to get drenched by kids wielding buckets, waterpistols, and soft drink bottles filled with water. The name comes from “Vard,” which means “rose” in Armenian, and while considered a Christian holiday by the Armenian Apostolic Church, it’s origin is very much from before 301 AD when Armenia adopted the religion.

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