Belgrade protesters rally against Montenegro’s new religion law

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BELGRADE – Thousands of people gathered in the Serbian capital to protest the alleged suppression of religious and other rights of Serbian minorities in neighboring countries.

The January 8 march to St. Sava’s Church in Belgrade was led by Serbian Orthodox priests and brought together right-wing groups, football fans and others.

It was the third time that protesters took to the streets of Belgrade against a controversial new law on religion that was passed by Montenegro’s parliament last month.

Under the law, which came into force on January 8, religious communities must prove ownership of property before 1918.

This is the year that Orthodox Christian majority Montenegro joined the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes – and the Montenegrin Orthodox Church was subsumed by the Serbian Orthodox Church, losing all of its assets in the process.

The Serbian Orthodox Church, its supporters and pro-Serbian opposition parties fear the law will allow the Montenegrin government to seize Church property, although officials deny any intention to do so.

Serbia and Montenegro were part of a federation until 2006, when Montenegro declared its independence.

Montenegro is NATO’s newest member and aspires to join the European Union.

With reports from AP and Balkan Insight


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