Churches Attacked in Latest Kosovo Violence. BF. Report
04 Apr 2004
Violence being perpetrated by aggrieved Albanians is centring on Christian churches, cemeteries and monasteries. Thirty-one people have been killed and more than 40 religious sites, mostly churches, have been destroyed in large-scale violence which erupted once again in Kosovo on 17 March. The authorities in Kosovo, largely Albanian Muslim, have taken very little action against the perpetrators of the violence.
The immediate cause of this latest violence was reported to be the drowning of two Albanian boys. However it appears that the hostility did not flare up spontaneously, and had in fact been well planned. Neither is it in fact certain that the boys were actually drowned by Serbs. The added irony is that, while these attacks could be seen as revenge attacks for the Serbian atrocities of the war (which ended in 1999), at least one diocese in Kosovo was very outspoken against former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's brutal methods. Monasteries in this diocese and others were opened up to give ethnic Albanians shelter during the anti-Muslim/Albanian violence. Indeed such was the kindness shown that many Albanians started to seriously consider the claims of the Christian message. It is these very monasteries that are now being targeted for destruction. The balance of evidence strongly suggests that this latest outbreak of violence is an attempt to "ethnically" cleanse the region of its (largely Serbian) Christian heritage and people.
Sadly, in apparent retaliation, two mosques were burned last week by mobs in Belgrade, despite the pleas of Serbian church leaders. Fire-fighters and police intervened to save the mosques from complete destruction, placing them under "state protection."