March 16, 2012

Ethnic Albanians Demand Removal of Church

March 15, 2012

An ethnic Albanian MP in the Montenegrin parliament on Thursday again demanded for an Orthodox church to be removed from Mt. Rumija, near the town of Bar.

Mehmet Bardhi of the Democratic Alliance of Albanians in Montenegro stated during a parliament session today that the church was "constructed violently" in 2005.

The church, made of tin, belongs to the Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

"That structure is not only illegal and not only has Rumija been occupied by it, but it also represents a provocation of the highest order, and a threat, not only to Albanians, but also to inter-ethnic harmony," Bardhi was quoted as saying.

The ethnic Albanian MP demanded that the church be dismantled because the mountain where it was located, in his words, "cannot stand the smell of frankincense".

"The SPC cannot occupy Rumija, because that mountain does not belong only to the Orthodox," he continued, and said that by constructing the structure there, the Church "went on a war path".

Socialist People's Party MP Vasilije Lalošević reacted by saying that the church on Mt. Rumija was a holy place and that Bardhi's statements about religious structures being in the way and the smell of incense used in Christian ceremonies being unacceptable "were not well-meaning".

Montenegrin Tourism and Spatial Planning Minister Predrag Sekulić responded to Bardhi - whose statement was made in the form of an MP question to the government - and said that while the church was not built legally, "a moratorium on removal of illegally constructed structures was currently in place".