Orthodox church in Srebrenica seeks protection

Srebrenica, Bosnia - A Serbian Orthodox church in Srebrenica has asked RS institutions to protect its people, congregation and priests.

In a statement, church leaders said that citizens of Serb nationality, Orthodox churchgoers and priests had been exposed to pressure and attacks from Bosniaks and the local Bosnian authorities.

It is alleged that on Sunday evening, without any grounds, two Bosniak policemen interrupted a religious service taking place in the garden of the Shroud of the Blessed Virgin Mary church in Srebrenica.

“Police officers Enver Smailović and Elvedin Pilav entered the church grounds at around 6.30 p.m., and brought a halt to the music and festivities, as certain citizens had allegedly complained about the noise. The officers asked the local priest, Željka Teofilović, for identification, even though they were not authorized to do so,” the statement says.

“Serbs in Srebrenica no longer feel safe, even in the garden of an Orthodox church,” said the vice-president of the church’s administration, Zoran Spajić.

In the statement, it is claimed that since the Bosniaks came to power in 2000, constant pressure has been put on the church and the Serbs in Srebrenica, who make up the majority of the municipality’s population. Most serious have been those threats directed at priests and monks from the Sasa monastery and the church administration.