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News 12 Sep 17

Bosnian Serbs Ban Halloween Events in Schools

The Education Ministry in Bosnia's Serb-dominated Republika Srpska has prohibited Halloween events in schools after claims by Orthodox religious traditionalists that they might tempt children into Satanism. 

Danijel Kovacevic
Banja Luka
Photo: Greta Dark/Flickr

Traditionalists have welcomed the decision by the Republika Srpska Education Ministry to forbid all the primary schools and kindergartens in the entity to organise any activities to mark Halloween on October 31.

The ministry sent a letter to the schools and kindergartens in late August before the beginning of the new term after traditionalist groups dedicated to the family and religious identity lobbied for the ban.

The groups said in their written appeal to the ministry that Halloween "celebrates the pagan cult of death".

Under the guise of "innocent children's games", youngsters are led towards "sectarianism and Satanism", they claimed.

"The ultimate goal of such a celebration is that from the earliest age, children get accustomed to evil," they added.

"Nobody obliges or forbids you or me to celebrate St. Nicholas, May Day or Halloween in our homes," Predrag Adamovic, the president of one of the groups, Serbian Assembly 'Bastionik', told BIRN.

"But I repeat, this cannot be the case in educational institutions, because really when you think about it more, it causes great harm to the youngest, our children," Adamovic said.

The appeal for a ban was also backed by the Friendship Society of Hilandar Monasteries, Association of Four Plus Families, the Circle of Serbian Sisters, The Choice is Ours NGO, the Balkanological Research Centre and the St Sava Cultural Club.

The Republika Srpska Education Ministry said it sees marking Halloween as problematic because it is not authorised by the entity's law on holidays and runs counter to traditional values.

"Experts believe that marking this event in schools has a detrimental effect on education and is not in line with the tradition of our people," the ministry said.

The Banja Luka Center for Human Rights criticised the ban, saying that citing the entity's law on holidays would only make sense if someone was attempting to close a school on October 31 to mark Halloween.

“It is constantly said that children must be interested in school with an interactive, creative and entertaining approach to learning, and when you have such an approach, the state throws it out of the classroom,” Dejan Lucka, the director of the Banja Luka Centre for Human Rights, told media. 

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