Does University of Pristina want to turn the Pristina Cathedral
into such ruins (photo of the Cathedral in Djakovica, destroyed by Kosovo Albanian
extremists in June 1999, after the war)

ERP KIM Info Service

Campaign against Christianity intensifying in Kosovo

For Pristina University, which is becoming an ethnically clean Institution, with the vast majority of Moslem students, a Christian Chruch in its vicinity looks like "a pig in the mosque courtyard"

Editorial by Fr. Sava (Janjic)
Gracanica, January 22, 2003

The latest initiative of the Kosovo Ministry of Education to demolish the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of Christ the Savior in the centre of Pristina is a last drop in the three year's long anti-Christian campaign led by Kosovo Albanian extremists. While all most important Universities in Europe and the United States are proud of their University chapels, Kosovo Albanian Ministry of Education and University request destruction of a Christian church. Why? For the Pristina University, which is becoming an ethnically clean institution, with the vast majority of Moslem students, a Christian Chruch with a cross in its vicinity looks like "a pig in the mosque courtyard".

For three years Kosovo Albanian extremists wage a war against the Church and the Christian holy sites in Kosovo. In an unprecedented campaign, more 112 Christian Orthodox churches were barbarously destroyed or damaged. This happened not in the time of war but in the time of internationally granted peace in which the UN Mission and NATO led peacekeepers failed to stop the vandalism. They rather found themselves in position of passive observers of what new European Taliban - KLA - were doing with impunity. Thousands of old icons perished for ever, frescoes that survived centuries of Ottoman rule now lie in dust.

After the former KLA gunmen changed their clothes and became politicians overnight, the torch of the battle against the Church is taken by new Kosovo institutions. Under the pretext of law and democracy they decided to demolish a cathedral which is a thorn in their eye because of its golden cross which dominates the drab Pristina skyline. For the new Kosovo Masters which emerged from the forests of Drenica three years ago Christian culture is something which they can never understand. It seems that they believe that Kosovo capital should remain only a city of mosques and communist style buildings. It is now becoming more and more evident that Kosovo Albanian society is sliding rapidly towards latent Islamic fundamentalism because such behavior towards Christian church and clergy, which exists in Kosovo now, can only be compared to most retrograde Middle East societies.

Attempts to justify this anti-Christian campaign by political reasons are totally unfounded. In fact it was exactly the Orthodox Church which openly opposed to Milosevic regime in Kosovo and first established constructive cooperation with the UN Mission, KFOR and new Kosovo Albanian authorities after the war hoping that a just and democratic society will be built. During the war, some churches and monasteries sheltered Kosovo Albanian Moslem population, while the Orthodox Church in Albania fed thousands of refugees and relieved their suffering. Although Milosevic regime tried to misuse Christian symbols and tradition as a means to promote his atheist political agenda, a wise policy of Bishop Artemije never allowed Serbian Orthodox Church to be associated to what the former regime did in Kosovo. That is why Bishop Artemije had open doors from Washington to London and Paris, but only not in Belgrade at that time, where he was seen as traitor to the national cause. However, Milosevic left and the new Belgrade Government looks towards building a modern democracy, while only things in Kosovo remain the same.

Those who expected that the Church would turn the blind eye to the rising Kosovo Albanian nationalism and passively watch destruction of the Serbian people and culture made a great mistake. In fact as much as the Church opposed to Milosevic ideology before and during the war, so much it stood against the new oppression led by Kosovo Albanian extremist leaders after the war. In fact new Kosovo leadership is doing the same what Milosevic regime did. The only difference is that the international community opposed the former and passsively tolerates the latter, failing to take an evenhanded position towards retrograde Balkan nationalisms.

14th century fresco in the Orthodox Monastery of
Matejce desecrated by Albanian extremists, Macedonia 2001

Some people might jump into conclusion that the Church changed its moderate position and became radicalized, but it is quite opposite.

In fact Church never supported secession of Kosovo from Serbia and changes of Balkan borders, but establishing of modern democratic Serbia and Yugoslavia in which all would be treated fairly regardless of ethnicity and religion. In the eyes of the Church the future of the Balkans is not in changing of borders but in changing of mind and cooperation regardless of borders. Therefore, it was wrong to expect that the Serbian Orthodox Church, which opposed to one nationalism, would ever approve of creation of an ethnically clean Albanian state in which Christianity would be terrorized and oppressed as it is now. Quite on the contrary. The more extremism intensifies, the more will the voice of the Church be stronger. Church knows that false peace can never be built on injustice. That is why Christianity was always persecuted by those ideologies which sought creation of a false peace, no matter whether it was ancient paganism, modern day communist regimes, or fanatic Islamism.

With great regret Serbian Orthodox Church sees that the new Kosovo Albanian authorities lead the Province towards chaos and disorder. Kosovo has never been less multiethnic and less free and tolerant than it is now. Despite ample international support many people live in poverty and despair, while new masters of Kosovo live in opulence and make enormous profit from organized crime and drug smuggling. Moral degradation, rise of theft, prostitution and crime is seen everywhere in the Province which is already called "European Columbia". Instead of protection and building of culture Kosovo becomes a most uncultured part of Europe with its omnipresent heaps of smoking garbage in the towns and the countryside. But, what pains the most is a campaign to destroy the most beautiful Christian monuments of Kosovo which were once the pride not only of Kosovo's Christians but also of Moslems as well.

With every new ruined church or broken cross on a cemetery Kosovo is desperately sliding further away from Europe and its Christian roots, whether new Kosovo masters wanted to admit that or not. Vandalism of this kind cannot find understanding anywhere in the civilized world and would always face outright disgust and condemnation.

If Kosovo Albanian people allow their unwise leaders continue with such a campaign they would never be able to join the family of civilized European peoples which protect and cherish their culture. Those who think that they can built an European society on the ruins of Christian churches and cemeteries are only deceiving themselves and their own people.

Therefore it is the high time for Kosovo citizens to decide whether they want to become a modern and tolerant society or they wish to remain a black spot on the map of Europe.

Christian images desecrated by Kosovo Albanian extremist
UCK acronym on the icon of St. Sava of Serbia