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December 01, 2005

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Bogdan

In the Middle Ages, the churches and monasteries had indeed a political role, as they were the centres of Serbian administration. In fact, much of todays Kosovo belonged to the Serbian Church, hence its official Serbian name, "Kosovo i Metohia" (Metohia = "monastic land"). As such,these regional centres helped colonizing the sparsely populated area of Kosovo with Serbs.

Of course, this was the case more than half a millenium ago and vandalism has no justification now. However, many old Orthodox churches were vandalized or destroyed even in Albania and since the Kosovars are by far more extremist than the typical Albanians... :-(

Oskar L.

In any ethnic/religious conflict churches/mosques/temples are going to be a political symbol. But they should still be considered "safe havens".

It's not just in Kosovo that a lot of the churches are recent constuctions, this is also the case in Serbia as well. The reason being that it was really only after the fall of Tito that religion (and the Church with it) could make a comeback in public life. It's the same in Russia (and a lot of other ex-communist countries) as well.

That's not to say that church-building (and, to a lesser extent, church attendance) isn't a political act. In most Socialist countries it was about opposition to the Party. In Kosovo (as in Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia) religion was also about national identity.

In the Serbian community here in Sweden, membership in the Serbian Orthodox Church was at least partly about being against Tito and the socialists, while the Yugoslav Society was more of a 'Yugoslav' Socialist organization (partly controlled by the Embassy).

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