Wednesday, October 10, 2007

SERBIA: Violence continues against religious communities

This article was published by F18News on: 9 October 2007

By Drasko Djenovic, Forum 18 News Service

The number of attacks on Serbia's religious communities appears to continue to be declining, Forum 18 News Service notes in its latest annual survey of such attacks. However, the attacks themselves seem to be becoming more violent and, as in previous years, members of religious minorities are especially likely to be attacked. The police continue to be apparently unwilling to protect members of religious minorities or religious sites at risk of attack – even if they have already been attacked. Members of religious minorities have in the past year been beaten and stabbed, and places of worship have been the targets of arson attacks. Places of worship of the Orthodox Church have occasionally been robbed, but the vast majority of attacks have been on Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, Jehovah's Witness and other religious minority individuals and property. Religious communities are sometimes reluctant to report attacks to the police or make them publicly known. Forum 18 knows of smaller "traditional" communities which have denied that they have been attacked after attacks have taken place.

Few violent attacks against religious communities in Serbia – on individuals or religious property - ever result in any punishment, Forum 18 News Service notes. This continues the pattern of previous years. The latest Forum 18 survey of such attacks – covering September 2006 to September 2007 – seems to indicate that although fewer attacks are now taking place, the attacks themselves are becoming more violent. The apparent decline in the number of attacks continues a trend noted from September 2005 to September 2006. However, members of religious minorities are still especially likely to be attacked and have in the past year been beaten and stabbed. Places of worship of minority communities have been the victims of arson attacks.



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