“CHRIST IS RISEN, Christ is risen!” says Temur Batirashvili, father of one of the most notorious leaders of the Islamic State.
Temur welcomes me into his modest house with the phrase that is a common greeting among Eastern Orthodox Christians. Then he takes a drink from a glass of homemade Georgian wine.
“Truly, He is risen,” he continues. “Truly …”
Temur Batirashvili is a Christian, like his ancestors. He has three sons, all of whom converted to Islam, against their father’s wishes. Temur blames himself; when the children grew up he was rarely at home, traveling for work all over Russia. He had to support his family. The children’s mother, an ethnic Chechen Muslim whose family immigrated to Georgia hundreds of years ago, raised the couple’s sons mostly on her own.
“I never thought that my son …” Temur starts, then grows silent and takes a drag from a cigarette. He chains smokes one after another.