The mayor of Kamenica confirms the desecration of St. Petka: Such vandalism is unacceptable

Foto: Sv. Petka u Donjoj Šipašnici

„The Orthodox church in Donja Sipasnica has been damaged, its interior was desecrated. Such vandalism is unacceptable. Faith in God and practicing religion are very personal issues and it is someone’s right to do so without facing any harm or danger. The value of our society lies in cultivating tolerance, respect, and emancipation so that prosperity would not remain an empty marker,“ reads the mayor of Kamenica, Qendron Kastrati’s reaction to yesterday’s incident in the church of St. Petka in Kamenica.

Unknown persons stole several church supplies from the church of St. Petka in the village of Donja Sipasnica near Kamenica on Monday, Gracanicaonline reported, citing the vice president of the Kamenica municipality in the Kosovo system, Bojan Stamenkovic.

The Kosovo police state that they found an overturned metal candle stand on the scene. They also said that the church „is not being used due to age and the danger of it collapsing“.

The mayor of Kamenica, who is a member of the Self-Determination, however, underlined:

„Practicing (cf. a religion) is a basic right guaranteed by law. We must be open to different beliefs in our society because that is a precondition for equality. As institutions, we must ensure that everyone exercises their basic rights, regardless of religion, ethnicity or place of residence. Hooliganism against religious buildings is unacceptable. It is vital that different communities find a common language, instead of being separated by the assumed differences they may have,“ he said in a Facebook post.

Along with the message, Kastrati also published photos of the church of St. Petka in Donja Sipasnica – both of its exterior and interior – which show an overturned candle stand.

Kastrati’s Facebook post received numerous negative comments – while some claim that the news was „false“ and that the Serbs „did it themselves“ because the Albanians „do not destroy holy places“; others state that the church was damaged „by old age“, and that Serbs „did not enter it for four years“.

Kastrati’s deputy, Bojan Stamenkovic, also condemned the incident. He called on all communities to respect each other’s dignity.

„At a time when the municipality of Kamenica, as an example to everyone, allocates money from the budget for the rehabilitation and construction of the same shrine, someone is obviously bothered by this. This hooligan act is absolutely unacceptable and I expect the Local Council to react. Let all those who do not understand that the freedom of religious practice is respected, that the wealth of diversity and coexistence in the municipality of Kamenica presents the right path to a healthy society and that, fortunately, there are many more good people who will stand in the way of vandalism. I call on the competent institutions to shed light on this act of desecration of shrines and bring the perpetrators of this offense and sacrilege to justice,“ Bojan Stamenkovic told Gracanicaonline.

Hashani: The candle stand was knocked down, the church has not been used for a long time due to old age and the danger of collapse

The Kosovo police revealed somewhat different findings from the field in a statement for KoSSev last night. The spokesman of the Kosovo Police for the region of Gnjilane/Gjilan, Ismet Hashani, stated that an ethnic Serb reported to the police yesterday at around 4 pm that a candle stand in the church in Donja Sipasnica had been overturned.

When the police came to the church, they found an overturned metal candle stand on the floor, but no other damage, Hashani stated in a written reply to KoSSev.

„It was observed that the church has not been used for a long time due to old age and the risk of collapse,“ Hashani added.

The prosecutor was informed about the case and a report was made, the spokesman added, emphasizing that the police will work hard on investigating the case.

The police also took photographs of the scene.

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