Politics

Georgia's ID Cards : A Sign of the Devil?

Article published on Jan. 14, 2014
Article published on Jan. 14, 2014

Last month, members of the Church staged protests in Georgia’s capital against something that many would not suspect of being problematic, ID cards. According to members of the Church, the new, multi-functioning electronic ID cards are possessed by devils. 

In Au­gust 2011 the Min­istry of Jus­tice made dig­i­tal ID cards avail­able to every­one ob­tain­ing an ID card for the first time or re­new­ing their old one. The gov­ern­ment de­cided to pro­mote these new ID cards be­cause they are very dif­fi­cult to fal­sify, as they allow peo­ple to have their own dig­i­tal sig­na­ture. More­over, peo­ple can now do their on­line bank­ing, pay bills, buy bus tick­ets, and even check their grades and reg­is­ter for classes with the new cards. They are mod­ern and com­fort­able, and stu­dents even gain ac­cess to dozens of dis­counts with them. De­spite all of these ad­van­tages, the Church op­poses the adop­tion of these cards. 

Violation of freedom

Some of the main ID op­po­si­tion lead­ers are Tea Gegia from the Or­tho­dox Col­lec­tive, Fa­ther Zosime from the Quashveti Church in Tbil­isi, and lawyer Irma Bandze­ladze. Fol­low­ing the most re­cent protests on 21 No­vem­ber, the or­ga­niz­ers were in­vited to discuss their po­si­tion on the radio. Lawyer Irma Bandze­ladze claims that the ID cards vi­o­late peo­ple’s free­dom, as every­one’s per­sonal in­for­ma­tion is held in one cen­tral­ized sys­tem. This ar­gu­ment, how­ever, is not very ra­tio­nal, as the gov­ern­ment and banks al­ready store every­one’s in­for­ma­tion, and no one has op­posed this until today.

What is even more trou­bling is that the Church rep­re­sen­ta­tives claim to speak for the en­tire com­mu­nity. Cur­rently, only 100,000 peo­ple have signed a pe­ti­tion stat­ing they do not want elec­tronic ID cards, but Geor­gia has a pop­u­la­tion of around 4 mil­lion peo­ple. De­spite these fig­ures, Irma Bandze­ladze claims that 99% of Geor­gians want their for­mer ID cards back.

Second coming of Christ

Re­li­gious fa­nati­cism is com­mon in Geor­gia, and those who op­pose the ID cards use su­per­sti­tion as their main ar­gu­ment against them. Fa­ther Zosime claims that the elec­tronic ID cards sig­nal the sec­ond com­ing of Christ. He also be­lieves that using a bar­code for prod­ucts pur­chased in the su­per­mar­ket is a sign of the com­ing apoc­a­lypse. If the elec­tronic ID cards are abol­ished, this group of re­li­gious rep­re­sen­ta­tives also plans to de­mand that Geor­gians no longer use the per­sonal num­bers on their IDs, or any iden­ti­fi­ca­tion num­ber at all.

While the Geor­gian gov­ern­ment has tried to en­gage with the op­po­nents of elec­tronic ID cards, no con­sen­sus has been reached. With the hope of rais­ing aware­ness about the harm­less na­ture of this in­no­va­tion, the Min­is­ter of Jus­tice has given sev­eral in­for­ma­tive TV ap­pear­ances re­gard­ing the new ID cards. She even is­sued a 5-minute in­for­ma­tive video about ID cards, pre­sent­ing strong ar­gu­ments from IT tech­ni­cians and com­puter ex­perts stat­ing that there is no sign of a bib­li­cal an­tichrist em­bed­ded in the mi­crochip that has be­come an un­for­tu­nate sym­bol for Geor­gia’s ul­tra-or­tho­dox groups to latch onto. De­spite this ef­fort, the ID cards’ op­po­nents show no signs of giv­ing up.