UNESCO: Help Pristina clean up its act and preserve Christian site, now turned into public dump/WC
Over the last couple of weeks, it has emerged that a Christian chapel, located in a municipally-serviced cemetery in the City of Pristina, Kosovo, has been allowed - by the city - to be the target of a sickening type of vandalism.
The chapel, which had recently been renovated and cleaned, has now been turned into a rubbish dump and a public toilet.
The Orthodox Bishop of the Diocese of Raska and Prizren, Bishop Teodosije said: "It is hard and difficult to understand that in the main city of Kosovo and Metohija (i.e., Pristina), Christian objects are used as public toilets in the 21st century."
The Mayor of Pristina, Mr Shpend Ahmeti, later claimed that the municipality is not responsible for checking if religious sites are desecrated or damaged. But, apparently, the city services this cemetery and also provides a security guard for the same. So, in fact, the city does bear some responsibility for what happens in the cemetery.
However, a bigger issue, still, is the fact that the City Government of Pristina intervened in the recent cleaning of another Christian Orthodox church. In fact, the church of Christ the Saviour, which is in Pristina city centre, was in the middle of being cleaned, when city inspectors arrived, unannounced, and, without cause, put a stop to the cleaning.
On this issue, Bishop Teodosije said: "Such abuse of religious freedom is a disgrace for Kosovo society."
Because of these attacks on Christian heritage and dignity, this petition is now being launched. It is directed to Ms Mechtild Rössler, the Head of the Heritage Division at UNESCO, the UN body which seeks to preserve world heritage and culture. It is also directed to Mr Shpend Ahmeti, the Mayor of Pristina.
The petition asks that UNESCO begin discussions with the City of Pristina, to try to inspire a positive outcome, preserving Christian sites of worship from the type of desecration described above and from ongoing neglect.
Without entering into the historical or political discussion about the region's place among nations, it is fair to say that religious tensions have caused problems in the past. We would prefer to see a positive outcome, in this present case, rather than increasing religious mistrust.
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UNESCO: Please help preserve Christian sites of worship in Pristina.