News 20 May 14

Macedonian Teen’s Murder Sparks Ethnic Unrest

The arrest of an ethnic Albanian on suspicion of killing a young Macedonian has raised ethnic tensions and provoked a new outbreak of protests in the capital, Skopje.

BIRN
Skopje

Protests erupted in the Macedonian capital on Monday following the killing of a recent high school graduate in a Skopje suburb after he and his father chased a thief who had stolen a bicycle.

Photo by Meri Jordanovska

Angel P., who was born in 1995, was stabbed to death on Monday afternoon after he succeeded in catching the thief. According to the police, the suspect, named as Naser E., was detained shortly afterwards.

After the name of the suspect was made public, indicating that he was of ethnic Albanian origin, demonstrations erupted in the Gjorce Petrov suburb that later turned violent.

Protesters overturned garbage containers and blocked the main street in the suburb about eight kilometres west of the city centre.

Photo by Meri Jordanovska

Police special forces were deployed and reports said that they succeeded in stopping the angry protesters from crossing a bridge and entering the neighbouring Saraj area, which is mostly populated by ethnic Albanians.

As rumours circulated during the night that two other people had been involved in the murder and were hiding in Saraj, several shops and restaurants believed to be owned by ethnic Albanians were demolished and one set on fire.

The situation calmed after top police officers visited the suburb, and municipality and state officials called for calm.

Photo by Meri Jordanovska

The road into Skopje that runs through Gjorce Petrov was closed on Tuesday morning as well as the street where the demonstrations took place.

The murder and protests again raised fears of renewed ethnic violence on the streets. In 2012 and 2013, similar violent protests broke out in Skopje, as well as mob attacks in the streets and on buses that were seen as ethnically motivated.

Photo by Meri Jordanovska

The news went viral among Macedonian users of Facebook and Twitter, with some social media users expressing ethnic hatred while others called for calm and coexistence.

“It is not the time for criticism but for calls for peace, because this can happen again in the days to come,” one Macedonian wrote on Facebook.

“The nationality of a murderer is – murderer,” another said on Twitter.

Photo by Meri Jordanovska

Of Macedonia’s population of about 2.1 million inhabitants, 63 per cent are ethnic Macedonians and 25 per cent are ethnic Albanians.

In 2001, the country went through a brief armed conflict between Macedonian security forces and ethnic Albanian insurgents, which ended with the signing of a peace deal that granted greater rights for the Albanians.

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