Today around noon a monk of the Dečani Monastery, while taking a walk along around the monastery territory, noticed graffiti on the garden house, approximately 300 meters east of the Monastery. The monks immediately alerted the MNBG West KFOR Commander Col. Minelli and the local Kosovo police. It was learned that the graffiti was written on five more locations on the monastery’s land. The most common graffiti displays the abbreviations for the Albanian National Army “UCK,” other abbreviations of Islamist armies “ISIS,” “AKSH,” a threat that “The Caliphate is coming,” and some undecipherable lines that look like an attempt to write in Arabic. While Col. Minelli, the chief of police, and abbot of the monastery Fr. Sava were inspecting the graffiti, a group of young Kosovo Albanians who were passing on the road overlooking the monastery land began shouting UCK in chorus. This was witnessed by both Col. Minelli and the KP commander. Later the police informed the monks that three young Albanian men were detained by the police for provocative behavior.
The graffiti was most probably written during the previous night (11/12 October). The perpetrators of this provocation most probably entered the monastery property on the eastern side where there is no wall. Six years ago, the Monastery had to stop construction of the wall on the eastern side because they were openly threatened in the press by the local UCK war veteran organization, claiming that the Monastery had no right to do so. This part of the Monastery property remains the most critical point and it is very hard to secure without at least some barbed wire or fence, before the wall is constructed.
Today’s incident comes several days after the incident at Peć Patriarchate gate where a Wahhabi man (identified as Alegorik Muhamed Beqiri born in 1992 from Skenderaj/Srbica, with residence in Peć/Peja) attacked and injured a local Kosovo policeman shouting “Allah u-Akbar”. On that occasion the Church learned that this man and his companions had allegedly threatened the Catholic nuns in Peć a few days before, telling them that they would be slaughtered.
Dečani monks informed KFOR two months ago that they sighted four vehicles filled with bearded men dressed Wahhabi style passing by the monastery on their way to the Dečani gorge. They returned to the town of Dečani soon afterwards. Today’s incident also comes six months after unknown individuals left UCK graffiti on one of the Monastery gates (April 24, 2014). The perpetrators of this vandalism have not yet been brought to justice. Although the graffiti this time was written further away from the Monastery compound, the Dečani monks nevertheless remain very concerned, because this incident shows that there is a possibility of unauthorized access to the area in which the brothers work in the gardens and take care of the cattle every day.
In the recent weeks, KFOR has increased security around the Monastery with random patrols as an additional element of protection to the existing checkpoints. KFOR has also mediated in a few projects that should improve the relations with the local community. This latest incident comes as a step backward for all.
PRESS RELEASE BY THE DIOCESE
The Diocese of Raška-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija has strongly condemned the Islamist and Albanian nationalist graffiti that were written by unknown individuals on the property of Visoki Dečani Monastery. This is one more in the series of many provocations directed against Visoki Dečani Monastery and the Christian Orthodox sites in Kosovo.
Bishop Teodosije has made an appeal today to the international representatives as well as the local Kosovo institutions, warning that any extremism of nationalist and religious character presents a serious threat not only for the Serbian people and the Church in Kosovo, but also for all citizens in this region. Our Church, said Bishop Teodosije, expects the international community and the Kosovo institutions to protect peace and order as well as Christian sites in Kosovo from provocations and potential acts of terror.
The Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo has been exposed for years to acts of violence and provocations which must stop once and for all, emphasized Bishop Teodosije.
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