News 01 Sep 11

Kosovo Muslims in Deadlock Over Capital's Mosque

Row over new main mosque for Pristina continues after the Islamic Community rejects mayor's proposed site.

Petrit Collaku

Kosovo Muslims and City Hall in Pristina remain in deadlock over plans to build a big new mosque for the country's largest city, after the Mayor offered the Islamic Community of Kosova a site between the Post and Telecoms building and a health centre.

“We have made attempts to find a location that will not displace other services,” Mayor Isa Mustafa said. 

But Islamic Community officials are far from happy with what the Mayor has come up with, saying they want another, bigger site, closer to the city centre, which is currently used by a kindergarten.

They want the kindergarten demolished and the new mosque built on the site instead.

“We have told the mayor that we will undertake all the expenses needed to build a new kindergarten somewhere else,” Resul Rexhepi, the Islamic Community's secretary, told Balkan Insight.

Rexhepi said the location proposal by Mustafa was too small, and the nature of the offer suggested that Muslims were subject to official discrimination in Kosovo, whose population is overwhelmingly Muslim in terms of faith.

“The city centre of Pristina has a Catholic cathedral and an Orthodox Church but no mosque. Isn’t this offending and discriminating against the Muslim community?” he asked.

Rexhepi added that the Muslim community was not against the new Catholic cathedral but Muslim believers had a right to a new mosque in a prime location as well.

Muslims and Catholics have been spatting for years over their respective houses of worship in Pristina. City centre land was earmarked for a new Catholic cathedral back in 2000.

Fatmir Sejdiu, the former president of Kosovo, formally opened the Cathedral of Blessed Mother Teresa on September 5, 2010, exactly 13 years after the death of Mother Teresa, the ethnic-Albanian nun born in Skopje, Macedonia.

Some Muslims claimed that Christians, who make up only about 5 per cent of the population of Kosovo, were getting special treatment.

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