The Eparchy of Raska-Prizren condemns the filming of the music video on the foundations of St. Nicholas Church

Aljbana Azizi Novo brdo
FOTO: Printscreen/Youtube

The Eparchy of Raska-Prizren expressed a strong condemnation on Monday night over the filming of a music video by Albanian singer, Albana Azizi on the foundations of the Church of St. Nicholas in Novo Brdo. The Eparchy said that the filming is an „unconscionable and vulgar act“. They also said that they are considering the possibility of filing a criminal lawsuit on the grounds of „the disruption of religious and ethnic relations and the misuse of a cultural and historical site for profane activities.“

We publish the statement of the Eparchy of Raska-Prizren in its entirety:

Having received reports from several media outlets and seen the music video by Kosovo-Albanian singer, Albana Azizi, which was filmed on the foundations of the Church of St. Nicholas in Novo Brdo, it is with deep indignation that we protest this unconscionable and vulgar act in the strongest possible terms. According to Kosovo law, the Novo Brdo Fortress site, which includes the archaeological site of St. Nicholas Church, the ancient see of the Serbian Orthodox Metropolitans of Novo Brdo, is a Special Protected Zone (SPZ), and as such all activities taking place therein are regulated by the law on Special Protected Zones . The continued misuse of the St. Nicholas Church site, which has included unauthorized work on the ruins of the church, various cultural activities, the serving of a Roman Catholic mass (without our consent), and finally the filming of this obscene and crass music video on the site of the graves of priests, monks, and laypeople, demonstrates that the existing Kosovo institutions have failed to adequately protect this cultural heritage site, and that they either are incapable of properly taking care of it or refuse to do so.

As one of five members of the Council for Special Protective Zones, the Diocese has the urgent obligation of raising this issue at the Council’s next meeting. This meeting is set to take place as soon as the next set of Kosovo Ministers for Culture and Spatial Planning are appointed by the newly-formed government. These two ministers, along with the heads of the EU Office and OSCE Mission are also members of the Council for Special Protective Zones, whose duty is to ensure the protection of these zones and that the law is respected with regard to them. Obviously, the makers of this music video did not seek the permission of either the Novo Brdo Municipality nor of the Serbian Orthodox Church, to whom the aforementioned Law (Article 6.3) explicitly grants the authority to limit activities in such zones, including any public gatherings, recreation, or entertainment. Moreover, the very filming of this music video, which offends the religious and cultural sensibilities of our community in Kosovo and Metohija, and within the grounds of a Special Protective Zone, is itself contrary to Article 3 of the aforementioned Law, which states that the purpose of having Special Protective Zones is to prevent any kind of activities which are adverse to the character of sites which are to be protected, and to ensure the best possible conditions for the harmonious and sustainable development of the communities which live in those areas.

A few years ago a similarly obscene music video was filmed in the Church of Christ the Savior in Priština, and which, unfortunately, also went by without any reaction from Kosovo institutions. This, taken together with the present example, is a lamentable example of the utterly irresponsible stance which Kosovo institutions take towards Special Protective Zones, and in particular in this case, their lack of concern for this medieval archaeological site which is also a Christian religious site of particular importance to the Serbian Orthodox Church, on account of which the site was placed on the list of Special Protective Zones. Given all this, together with its lawyers, the Diocese is considering the possibility of filing a lawsuit on the grounds of the disruption of religious and ethnic relations and the misuse of a cultural and historical site for profane activities which offend the conscience of any civilized person.

We expect no less than the full implementation and respect of existing laws by both international representatives in Kosovo, whom we will especially address concerning these issues in writing, and, especially, by the representatives of Kosovo institutions. At the first meeting of the Council for Special Protective Zones, the Diocese will request that all unauthorized persons be forbidden from entering the site without special permission, and also that the construction of any buildings thereon be forbidden, considering that this ancient church has now become a battleground for the survival of the religious and cultural heritage of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo and Metohija. The Diocese would respond in the same way if the holy site of another religious or ethnic group in Kosovo were profaned in a similar way.

The Diocese has already protested the breaking of the law in the Novo Brdo Special Protective Zone three times, twice in June and once in August of this year. Unfortunately, the relevant Kosovo institutions have done nothing to protect the site from misuse.

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