Kosovo Serbs Rally Against Montenegro’s New Religion Law

Hundreds of ethnic Serbs have rallied in the outskirts of Kosovo’s capital Pristina to protest against the alleged suppression of religious and other rights of Serbian minorities in neighboring Montenegro.

The protesters on January 9 marched through Gracanica, a small Serbian-populated municipality, holding religious banners and a cross.

“[Kosovo] against ghosts, brothers protect the sanctities,” a banner read.

The march was organized by youth organizations and was supported by the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Three similar protest rallies have been held in Serbia’s capital, Belgrade, against a controversial new law on religion that was adopted by Montenegro’s parliament last month.

Under the law, religious communities must prove property ownership from before 1918.

That’s the year when predominantly Orthodox Christian Montenegro joined the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes — and the Montenegrin Orthodox Church was subsumed by the Serbian Orthodox Church, losing all of its property in the process.

The Serbian Orthodox Church, its supporters, and pro-Serbian opposition parties fear the law will enable the Montenegrin government to impound church property, though officials deny they intend to.

Serbia and Montenegro were part of a federation until 2006, when Montenegro declared its independence.

Montenegro is the newest member of NATO and aspires to join the European Union.

Copyright (c) 2014. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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