Graffiti spelling out the Albanian acronym for “the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA)” – UCK – appeared on the walls of a Serbian Orthodox church in the temporary occuied territories in Kosovo.
The Church of Saint Flora and Lavre in the town of Lipljan was found defaced in this way on Saturday morning.
The police and the Diocese of Raska and Prizren have been notified about the incident, Tanjug reported.
President of the church municipality of Lipljan Zoran Simijonovic said that citizens notified him about the graffiti some time around 8 a.m. this morning, after which the police were called to inspect the area immediately.
According to him, citizens are distraught although no inter-ethnic problems in the area have been recorded of late.
“We did not see something like this coming and we are worried about potential new incidents,” Simijonovic said and added that all institutions of the Lipljan municipal assembly have been notified about the incident.
Chief of the Kosovo Administrative District Srdjan Petkovic stressed that Lipljan citizens are frightened and that they did not wish to appear in front of reporters’ cameras because they are afraid of potential retaliation.
“I would like to think that this is not connected to the events which occurred in France in the past few days, but it is obvious that every extreme situation or extremist action in the world echoes here as well,” Petkovic said.
Lipljan priest Slavisa Spasic said that the appearance of the graffiti on the church walls was a distressing experience for Lipljan citizens and Serbs.
Communique of the Raska-Prizren Diocese on the Christmas incidents in Lipljan and Djakovica:
During the Christmas holidays KLA graffito was written on the walls of the church of Sts Florus and Laurus in Lipljan. Regrettably, writing political graffiti, particularly those which were left on many desecrated and destroyed Serbian Orthodox churches since 1999 it is evident that the religious freedoms of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo are still not respected. As perpetrators of similar incidents before have not yet been brought to justice, the expectations that the Kosovo police and EULEX will do it this time are quite poor. However, we remain in hope that all reasonable people in Kosovo, regardless of their political, religious or national affiliations will understand that provocations and messages of hatred against others cannot bring any good.
Аt the same time we express our deepest disappointment because our Christmas pilgrims were not allowed to visit the church of the Holy Virgin in Djakovica this year too. Their bus was attacked with rocks, one windshield was broken and one person injured.
On the Christmas day the protest was organized in front of our church in Djakovica which made it impossible to serve the Christmas mas this year too. Similar incidents in Djakovica are becoming a regular practice which only confirms the lack of basic religious rights and freedoms in this city. The Serbs from Djakovica are systematically prevented to access their church and homes, many of which lie in ruins. We can also see the continuation of political manipulations in which all Serbs from Djakovica are blamed collectively for the misfortunes of others. The extremist political groups are continuing to manipulate with the feelings of those who lost their dear ones in the conflict of 1999. It is true that many innocent Albanians died in Djakovica in 1999 but in this city and others in Kosovo many innocent Serbs suffered and were abducted and dozens of Serbian Orthodox holy sites were torched and destroyed after the conflict in summer 1999 and 2004. Instead of inflicting pain to one another we all need more solidarity and forgiveness.
The attacks on holy sites and pilgrims on major Christian holidays are definitely not a path towards better future in Kosovo and do not contribute to the building of confidence between the communities in this region. That is why the rhetoric must be toned down and we all have to turn towards concrete measures how to provide all citizens with peaceful life, freedom access to their homes and properties and above all full respect of religious and human rights and freedoms for all.
In these blessed days of the Nativity of Christ we wish to all who respect us as well as to all who don’t a message of the Christmas peace – Christ is born! We remain in hope that the Godchild Christ will enlighten the hearts of all with sincere desire to live in peace and mutual respect regardless of their differences.
Diocese of Raška-Prizren
Serbian Orthodox Church