Kosovo Takes a Lesson from Bosnia in Interfaith Relations

Muslim, Orthodox, and Catholics join for democracy and human rights

Leaders of Kosovo's Muslim, Orthodox and Roman Catholic communities have set up a joint council to promote democracy and human rights, modeled on an inter-religious body in Bosnia-Herzegovina."With one united voice, we again strongly condemn all acts of violence and all violations of basic human rights," three religious leaders said in a declaration from Kosovo's capital, Pristina. The declaration was signed by Kosovo's Muslim Mufti, Rexhep Boja, by the Serbian Orthodox Bishop of Rasko-Prizren, Artemije Radosavljevic, and by the head of Kosovo's Roman Catholic community, Bishop Marko Sopi.The Inter-Religious Council of Kosovo has been set up at a crucial moment in relations between the main faith communities of the region. Violence in Kosovo and atrocities by some Serbs forced many Kosovo Albanians, most of whom are Muslim, to flee the province in the run-up to and during NATO's military action last year. However, since the arrival of KFOR, the international peace-keeping force which was installed there after NATO's military campaign, ethnic Albanians, reacting to the destruction and carnage inflicted on them, forced tens of thousands of Serb residents to leave the province—three-quarters of the province's 200,000 Serbs have now left, and up to 100 Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries have been destroyed or desecrated since the 1999 NATO campaign. Several churches and cemeteries belonging to the province's 70,000 Catholic minority—most of them ethnic Albanians—have also been targeted. KFOR peace-keeping troops have denied claims that the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK), which received support from Arab states during last year's conflict, is mounting a fundamentalist Islamic campaign in the province.In their statement announcing ...

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