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Vanessa Herrick's Kosovo Report
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Vanessa Herrick
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is a Canadian journalist reporting in Kosovo and Montenegro. You can reach her at vanessa_herrick
Posted 07.08.08
Pristina, Kosovo

VANESSA HERRICK

A CHURCH, DARK AND LOOMING

PRISTINA, KOSOVO | [EDITOR'S NOTE: Vanessa Herrick is a new contributor to the Log Cabin Chronicles. A Canadian, she's now based in Pristina, Kosovo, which just became independent of Serbia, much to the Serbs' anger. Look for some good stuff from Vanessa coming out of this potential international powder keg. These informal report will give a glimpse of what life there looks like to hard-working North American reporter who is a Stranger in a Strange Land...]

PRISTINA, KOSOVO | In my neighborhood there is what appears to be a burnt-out shell of a church, perhaps partially re-built, with bricks jutting out at odd angles, no windows, barbed wire at the entrance and surrounding the perimeter. It is an ominous looking place, untouched by the signs of ruin, no graffiti, no loiterers, no litter. People speed up as they walk by and no one stops to look.

When I first noticed it, I found this odd but soon forgot about it. Recently, I was walking by with Darden and he told me the story of this place.

The religious mix of Kosovo is mostly Muslim, some Orthodox Christians, Catholics, Protestants, and there are some Jews here, but not many.

The local mosque has a Star of David, marking it as a former synagogue. The Muslims choose to leave it out of respect -- this may be the only Muslim community in the world that supports Israel, but that is another story for another time.

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The church in these photos is not hundreds of years old, as most of the religious edifices are in this part of the world. It is only about 10 years old.

It was built by Slobodan Milosevic. It is in the centre of the city, and was placed intentionally to look out over the community.

The construction of the church stopped when NATO came in and Milosevic suddenly had serious problems with no time for bullying people through architecture.

The church has stood there, unfinished, dark and looming, ever since.

The community of Pristina has been fighting over what to do with it since. Many want it torn down because they see it as a symbol of the oppression of the war.

Christians and Catholics are defending it, saying that no matter who built it, it is a house of worship and therefore should be finished and claimed for the people of Pristina.

The battle continues, the church still stands. I know now why people do not look at it as they walk by.

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