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Muslim homes vandalized in Montenegro

28th Aug 2020

Harun Nasruallah

Several houses belonging to Bosnian Muslims in the town of Berane, northeastern Montenegro, were vandalised with graffiti celebrating infamous Serbian war criminals who have ethnically cleansed Muslims reports TRT World.

Murials of World War II Serb nationalist paramilitary ‘Chetniks’ leaders Pavle Đurišić and Draža Mihailović, appeared overnight on August 9. The pair orchestrated the killing of Muslims in the Balkans, resulting in the death and displacement of thousands.

The Berane Assembly, controlled by the opposition Socialist People’s Party (SNP) has come out strongly against what it called attempts to sow pre-election division by the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro (DPS) headed by President Milo Đukanović who was behind the graffiti.

Posting on Facebook the SNP wrote, ‘Under their hoodies and in the cover of dark in the eve of the elections, there is an attempt to scare our respected Muslim neighbours.’ Montenegrins will head to the polls on August 30 in a parliamentary election. The SNP urged the local Bosnian and Muslim communities not to fall prey to the provocations and added that the local Orthodox population did not have problems living alongside Muslims.

The Bosnian Party of Montenegro said that the incident “must not disturb the good, friendly and neighbourly relations that Bosnians have cultivated with their neighbours of other religions.”

The region has a long history of discrimination against the country’s indigenous Muslims. Many Islamic symbols in the town of Berane have been destroyed in the last 50 years, including what was once the central mosque. Much of the Muslim community’s charitable trusts were confiscated under the Yugoslavian communist regime, and have yet to be returned. Muslims make up 20% of Montenegro, and are made up of Bosnians and Albanians.

A recent bill on ‘Freedom of Religion or Beliefs’ by the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Government, aimed to delineate the relationship between church and state, resulted in Muslims being targeted by Serb politicians. Serb parliamentarian Andrija Mandić, warned Muslims not to vote for the law otherwise “horrible things might occur here.”

In what many saw as a call to arms, saying; “There are more hidden weapons in Montenegro than anywhere else; the weapons that will be unburied as soon as the first drop of blood falls. We will not seek justice through the legal system, but rather personally knock on the doors of those who did us injustice.”

The law passed in December 2019, but it exposed some deep fault lines in society.

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