June 1, 2016 – A cafe that would be considered commonplace in hipster neighborhoods across the United States is feeling maliciously targeted in Tbilisi, Georgia. Kiwi-Cafe, located on a traditional street in the capital which opposes Western values and influences, was attacked Sunday evening when men came inside throwing grilled meats, sausages and fish.
The cafe detailed the ordeal in a Facebook post Monday morning. They have named the Bergmann group as responsible for the sausage slinging incident; a movement they say are Neo-Nazis who support fascist ideas. They also recalled what could be a foreshadowing event from a month ago. Men from the movement came to the cafe’s neighbors and asked about the type of people who frequent Kiwi Cafe. Their patrons are often foreign, vegan, pierced, tattooed, LGBT and locals who preach tolerance.
Cafe employees say the incident began when the group walked in and started yelling while a film was being shown. They were eating different kinds of meat, and then began throwing the food at customers. The cafe reports that they did ask them to be quiet and then ultimately told them they had to leave.
“They said things like ‘why are you so aggressive? What about love?’ showing their irrespective attitude to vegans and our ideas,” their Facebook post quoted the attackers saying after being told to leave.
The incident escalated from that point and became physical. The brawl bled out onto the street and neighbors came to the scene. Kiwi-Cafe claims that the neighbors were of no help and took the side of the opposing group; one account shared said a knife-wielding neighbor took a friend of the cafes by the hair and pushed her face into the ground.
“At these painful moments, when we were the most vulnerable, they decided to attack. None of them knew what exactly happened, what was the point of the conflict and who provoked it – they were not interested to know, and they are still not interested now,” the cafe wrote of the neighbors. “Finally, they had a chance to could find a reason to express their baseless hatred toward us – and they started to blame us, although we were the victims of an absurd and unintelligent provocation by fascists.”
Police were called but according the cafe they too acted with aggression and placed no blame on the meat throwers.
While the episode could be seen as a prank, both the Kiwi-Cafe and human rights expert Giorgi Gogia note there is still a large resistance to Western influence in Georgia and the cafe embodies that impact.
“A majority of the country are pro-E.U. and pro-NATO. But Georgia remains a conservative country, the Georgian Orthodox church is very influential, and there is pushback against foreign influence.” Gogia said. “The Kiwi Café attracts hipsters, gays, people who are different, and they symbolize liberal Western values.”
The cafe is calling for support and continued patronage and are getting a mixed bag of responses online.
We want to hear your take on this, so keep the conversation going. Can the meat throwing incident be explained simply as a prank or was it grounded in a larger, more serious problem for Georgia? Funny or Offensive? Vote and comment below!