The stereotypes about Pankisi Valley and what Pankisi girls feel: by Khatuna Kavtarashvili

Pankisi Valley, one of the beautiful parts of Georgia, is known for its unique customs and population. The residing people of Pankisi, like North Caucasian Chechen and Ingush people, belong to the Vainakh Nation and they speak the same language. From ancient times Vainakhs and Georgians had close political, economical and cultural relations.

In the XIX century a Part of Vainakh settled in Pankisi based on the permission of the local government. Two nations of different religions had friendly relationship from the old time. However, many stereotypes about Pankisi have emerged in the recent years. When Salafi, those who gained the religions knowledge in Saudi Arabia appeared, the negative stereotypes were created, also the fleeing process of the several young boys to Syria contributed to make more stereotypes from the outsiders. They called Kists the terrorists.  The people in the world are afraid of us, because they think we are the terrorists. Of course, it is sensitive and difficult for us, especially for the youth. When we were going outside Pankisi, the people called us terrorists, even seeing hijabi girls. The discrimination has taken in case of Kists. For example, I remember one instance when we went somewhere and our peers avoided themselves from integrating with us. They were asking, if the people in Pankisi walk with guns in the streets, if the girls are forced to wear hijab and so on. Hearing this, a hijabi girl stood up and explained to them that hijab is the main element of her life and her decision made by herself and she is an ordinary person like them.

With all these, I would like to tell to the people, Pankisi isn’t a dangerous place, here live an ordinary people, not the terrorists!