US Warns of Rise in Incidents Targeting Kosovo Religious Sites

The US State Department's 2021 Report on International Religious Freedom, published on Thursday, said that incidents targeting religious sites in Kosovo increased by more than 50 per cent last year compared to the previous year, citing police figures.

"National police said they received reports of 87 incidents targeting religious sites during the year, compared with 57 incidents in 2020. The incidents targeted 56 Muslim, 30 SOC [Serbian Orthodox Church], and one Roman Catholic property," the report said.

"Police classified two cases as incitement of discord and intolerance but did not give details. The BIK [Islamic Community of Kosovo] said incidents targeting mosques were likely financially motivated, citing, for example, a cash charity box in the Kacanik Mosque that was robbed several times during the year. According to the BIK, the thefts negatively affected their humanitarian activities," it added.

The report said that unlike the Islamic Community of Kosovo, the Serbian Orthodox Church believes that incidents involving its property in the country were religiously and ethnically motivated.

"Because religion and ethnicity are often closely linked, it was sometimes difficult to categorise incidents as solely based on religious identity," the report said.

The State Department's report was issued a day after the Serbian Orthodox Church complained that Kosovo Police did not allow its priests to perform a liturgy in an unfinished church located on the Pristina University campus.

Pristina priest Stanica Arsic told KoSSev news agency that police prevented him and one of his colleagues from opening the door of the church on Thursday at around 4.30am.

"As soon as we reached the door to unlock it, first a police officer...

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