Imprisoned, George Bush Grenade Thrower Embraced Islam:
From Apostolic Church To Tbilisi Mosque
3 March 2010
By Abdullah Ar-Roussi
man of a Georgian national who threw an empty grenade
at Bush in Tbilisi eventually embraced Islam, grew
beard and learnt the Arabic language.
Vladimir Arutyunian, a resident of Tbilisi from an
Armenian ethnicity is currently undergoing a life
sentence in Georgia since 2006. He was prosecuted for
attempting to kill the President of Georgia Mikhail
Saakashvili and ex-president of America George W.
Bush, as well as killing a policeman.
Now, the man has been reported to have converted to
Islam inside the prison. His lawyer, Gela
Nikolaishvili said that the condition of Arutyunian is
normal and he is in a healthy condition.
“During his time in the prison, he changed
religion by converting to Islam, grew beard and learnt
the Arabic language,” Nikolaishvili said as
reported by the Russian media (15/2).
Arutyunian was earlier a follower of the Armenian
Apostolic Church. He had also tried to change religion
before, and this was his second attempt and he
succeeded this time.
According to the statement from his lawyer, Arutyunian
has lodged an application to the European Court of
Human Rights so that he is granted appeal for the
sentence he had received from the court in Georgia.
“The essence of Arutyunian’s appeal is that his
case is to be reviewed. However, based on the law in
Georgia, he could only do it in the period of six
months after the verdict was decided. He did not
immediately appeal for the review at that time due to
some reasons, including his health condition and the
unavailability of independent lawyers to accompany
him,” Nikolaishvili explained.
On 10th May 2005, Arutyunian threw a hand grenade,
wrapped in a handkerchief, at the podium where Bush
delivered his speech. As many as 10,000 people filled
in the Liberty Square in the capital of Georgia.
Saakashvili and other officials sat behind the
The grenade was dropped 30 meters from the podium
where Bush stood behind bullet-proof glass. But the
grenade did not explode at all.
The security department of Georgia stated that the
grenade was purposely not set to explode. And the
American officials said that Bush was not in a
dangerous situation. However, the Americans later
changed their statement saying that the grenade had
threatened the life of their president.
The Georgian department said that the grenade thrown
by Arutyunian was a type that is usually used for
training. The grenade did not contain explosive
materials and it fell far away from the position where
Bush was standing, thus it did not cause danger to him
at all. The grenade was thrown only to make the crowd
panicked and to attract the attention of the medias.
After throwing the grenade, Arutyunian escaped but was
able to be captured two months later. The single and
unemployed man was captured near the house where he
lived with his mother in the poorest district at the
outskirt of the Tbilisi.
In the process of his capture, he killed a police
personnel who was chasing after him. He was given a
life sentence in January 2006.
In his detention, while lying in hospital, he admitted
to have thrown the grenade at Bush. In the confession
broadcasted through the TV stations, Arutyunian
expressed his hatred for the new government, which he
considered as the puppet of America. The man who was
27 years old at the time of his arrest said that he
did not regret over what he had done.
When leaving the courtroom after the trial, one of the
reporters asked him whether he considers himself as a
terrorist or anti-globalization.
“I don’t consider myself a terrorist, I am just an
ordinary human being,” he answered