A group of Muslims who built a two-story mosque with no permit for about 3 years were surprised to see what it has become after authorities took action.
When a group of Muslims decided to build a two-story mosque, they refused to submit to authorities by completing the required application for a permit. However, after 3 long years of fervent labor to complete their house of worship without the necessary permit, they awoke on the eve of Ramadan to a nasty surprise they never expected.
Local authorities demolished an illegal mosque on the outskirts of Belgrade after Serbian police secured the area in a pre-dawn action, ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, despite protests by local Muslims and Islamic clergy.
The construction of a two-storey mosque without a minaret in the Zemun Polje neighbourhood started in 2014 even though the authorities had refused to grant it a construction permit.
The authorities previously attempted the demolition of the building but withdrew after protests by Muslims from the neighbourhood, mainly members of the Roma (Gypsy) minority. Early on Friday, they returned with the police escort and tore down much of building.
Belgrade’s city manager Goran Vesic said the authorities “destroyed an illegally built building, in line with law,” the Tanjug news agency reported.
Belgrade’s top Islamic cleric, Mufti Mustafa Jusufspahic, said the Islamic community would protest to the Serbian president.
“We are unpleasantly surprised as this happened on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan,” Jusufspahic told Reuters.
In the Serbian capital of around 1.6 million, there are about 20,000 practising Muslims and only one mosque, which was built in 1575 when the Balkans were ruled by Ottoman Turks.
“We have asked people to remain calm,” he said. “The authorities flexed muscles on the poor … other religious communities are building their places of worship unimpeded,” he said.
Jusufspahic said the Belgrade authorities have not issued a single construction permit to the Muslim community over the past five decades. His claim could not be verified.
Serbia is home to around 230,000 Muslims or 3.1 percent of the total population, mostly concentrated in the southwestern Sandzak region that borders Bosnia, Kosovo and Montenegro. A majority of the country’s population is Orthodox Christian.
Although the mosque itself was illegal, the Mufti, Muhamed Jusufspahic, denounced offcials, ironically calling the demolition an illegal “attack on the Muslims in Serbia.” However, the authorities weren’t intimidated by the Muslims’ dramatic interjections. In response to the Mufti’s outrageous claims, Belgrade’s city manager Goran Vesic reminded the media that they “destroyed an illegally built building, in line with law,” according to the Hindustan