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Imprisoned, George Bush Grenade Thrower Embraced Islam: From Apostolic Church To Tbilisi Mosque

3 March 2010

By Abdullah Ar-Roussi

The 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 American president.

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





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