(Reuters) - Protesters in a small Serbian border town called for government action on Sunday over the town’s rapidly rising population of asylum seekers from Afghanistan, the Middle East and Africa trying to reach the European Union.
Banja Koviljaca, a town of around 6,000 people on the river Drina between Serbia and Bosnia, is currently home to an estimated 2,500 migrants sent to an asylum centre there after being stopped by police trying to reach Western Europe.
Anger has been rising since the arrest of several Afghan men accused of raping a British woman in the town last month.
Serbia has seen a sharp increase in recent years in the number of asylum seekers, and the figures are expected to rise further as the Balkan country…moves towards membership of the EU.
Speakers at a protest of around 500 people said the town’s children would not go to school until the government solves the issue.
“At first dark, people lock their houses, people are scared,” local resident Natalia Maksimovic told the crowd.
“Yesterday it was rape, tomorrow it will be murder, while we stay silent and wait for someone who doesn’t even know where Banja Koviljaca is to solve the problem.”
In the first six months of this year, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) registered a five-fold increase in the number of asylum seekers in Serbia, including from Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan and the Middle East.
Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dacic has raised the possibility of opening other asylum centres.
“They are in the country in line with international conventions and we can’t just expel them,” he said last week, Serbian media reported. […]
Ah, the joyous Utopian benefits of EU membership. So whereas things came to a head in 1990s Kosovo precisely because the multi-culti communist Yugoslav government wasreluctant to protect the citizenry from violent Albanian Muslims, half of whom came from families that crossed illegally into Serbia’s Kosovo and beyond, now Serbia is doubly scared to lift a finger to impose legality, watched as it is by its eventual new owners.
Meanwhile, here was an item from the Bare Naked Islam blog about the rape of that British tourist by the Afghani gang she was brilliantly British enough to befriend:
The brutal gang rape of a British woman by 5 Afghan Muslims has sparked a massive protest against illegal immigrants in a Serbian spa town. The 38-year-old woman – who bravely managed to film the attack on her mobile phone – was repeatedly raped after befriending a group of Afghan men in a park in Banja Koviljaca.
Despite handing the video footage to police, only one alleged attacker – identified by police only as Abdurashid D., 25 – has been arrested. Her harrowing phone video footage of the attack is said by local media to show the faces of three of her attackers clearly.
Now local mothers have told police they are boycotting local schools from next week (nov 7) unless they clear out a local refugee centre containing more than 2,500 illegal immigrants which was built to hold just 120.
“These people are always hanging around the parks and streets during the day causing trouble,” said one mum. “They have no respect for us, no respect for women and we want them gone because they have no right to be here. “My daughter isn’t going to school again while four refugee rapists are still on the streets,” she added.
Police said that Abdurashid D. has admitted sex with the woman, but claims it was consensual, although he was unable to explain medical evidence showing injuries suffered by the woman. The rape occurred last week (27 Oct), but police only revealed the details after the woman had returned to the UK on Monday.
On a point related to the seeming inconsistency of Muslim flight to Serbia:
Tucked into Belgrade’s urban lifestyle live many Albanians who settled there mostly from Kosovo, especially after WWII. Belgrade welcomed them with open arms and today they work as doctors, lawyers or journalists.
Their number is unclear — city authorities say there are 1,492 Albanians.
One of the most famous, actor Bekim Fehmiu, chose to live in Belgrade until his death last year.
Leke Gjokaj is a student of medicine at Belgrade University and wants to continue the family tradition. He told SETimes to be Albanian in Belgrade is not a challenge.
“My parents worked as doctors in Belgrade. Even though my origin is from Peja in Kosovo, I have been there few times and feel more at home in Belgrade. Here are my family and friends,” Gjokaj said.
“I know stereotypes exist, but really it was not a problem to be an Albanian who goes to school or has friends. Of course, some try to make your life difficult, but if you have a destiny it does no matter,” Gjokaj said. “We have our own history and life here.”
Belgrade University has an Albanian language department, one of the oldest in the world, established in 1925. It has been developing and expanding since. Fifty students currently study Albanian, and about 15 new students enroll every year.
Department Assistant Merima Krijezi, an Albanian born in Belgrade, told SETimes there is growing interest in the programme. Most students are Serbs, with a few Albanians and students from mixed marriages who see an opportunity to learn their mother tongue.
“An increasing number of young people see a future in knowing this language and a possibility to earn well from it. The students who graduated from our department have a good chance of employment in state institutions like the army, police, parliament, courts, the faculty itself … to various NGOs,” she said.
“Belgrade is indisputably a metropolis and a city where you can find yourself,” Krijezi concluded.
Shqipe Sylejmani’s family, originally from Tetovo in Macedonia, moved to Belgrade in the 1980s because her parents worked for the former Yugoslavia’s federal government.
“For me, the political problems were not important; they never played a role in my life, but of course the effects could be felt during the 1990ˈs when Milosevic was in power. It was hard because people saw my family as the enemy who should not live here,” Sylejmani told SETimes.
She says her name Shqipe — meaning Albanian — and nationality earned her poor grades during the NATO bombing in the 1999 Kosovo conflict. “But such relations did not exist with my friends in class who respected me very well,” she said.
Sylejmani said that she would not leave Belgrade for any reason. “My parents are here; my friends and relatives live here and more than that, I was born here and I love the city. During the time of Milosevic, some people tried to make us to leave, but they did not succeed, and I see no reason to leave now after remaining here even in the most difficult period.” […]
So one of the oldest Albanian language university departments has been in Belgrade all along.
And I guess the Serbian students of the Albanian language see the writing on the wall and understand where the future lies; to the victors go the spoils. Meanwhile, had Shqipe’s federally employed parents been living in Kosovo in the 90s, they would not have survived the KLA’s punishment; but living in Belgrade during that supposedly most-dangerous-for-Albanians time, not a hair on their heads was touched.
“Albanians thrive in Belgrade.” No shit. But what non-Albanians thrive in Albanian-ruled lands? Indeed, even few Albanians thrive in the latter. Save for the criminal class.
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