Newsletter "Religious Intolerance and Discrimination"
FYROM - MACEDONIA: Bektashi appeal to Human Rights Without Frontiers
20 March 2008
HRWF (20.03.2008) - Website: http://www.hrwf.net - Email: firstname.lastname@example.org – The Bektashi of Macedonia have appealed to Human Rights Without Frontiers about the non-restitution by the Government of one of their holy places now occupied by force by the Islamic Community of Macedonia (ICM). The Bektashi, a Sufi Islamic group, sued the Government for failing to reverse the Former Yugoslavia's nationalization of the Bektashi's Tetovo compound, known as the Arabati Baba Tekke. The Bektashi also filed suit against ICM, armed members of which seized part of the complex in 2002. Right now, the ICM continues to occupy the area. The ICM claimed that the property belonged to them, since the Bektashi are a "sect" of Islam; however, the Bektashi are registered as a separate religious group and alleged that the property belonged strictly to the Bektashi community and not the Islamic community as a whole.
My name is C____, and I am writing on behalf of the Bektashi community of Macedonia.
In 2002, shortly after the war between Macedonia and ethnic Albanian separatists, a group of armed extremists invaded the Harabati Baba Tekke, located in Tetovo, Macedonia, a Bektashi religious site. The invaders are members of the Islamic Community of Macedonia, and their goal is to 'reclaim' the tekke as a mosque, although the structure has not served as a mosque at any time in its past.
Since that time the Bektashi community has sought a non-violent, legal solution to the dilemma, but to no avail; and in the meantime, the invaders have caused destruction to the property, defiled gravesites, harassed visitors, and most recently have begun discharging their firearms on the tekke grounds. The government has failed to recognize the autonomy of the religious community, has not acted to remove the men and their weapons from the site during the legal proceedings, and has not prevented them from beginning efforts at constructing a mosque on the site.
As a religious minority, the Bektashi community routinely suffers religious intolerance and discrimination both societally as well as institutionally, and only seeks return of the tekke grounds, and recognition of their independent and autonomous status as a religious organization in Macedonia. Moreover, the tekke itself is a historical and cultural site of great value to the Macedonian people which is being systematically destroyed to add a twenty-fifth mosque to Tetovo's existing twenty-four facilities.
Sir, we please ask your help. In your efforts to advocate for human rights, we ask that you bring the plight of the Bektashi community of Macedonia to the European institutions and people. We thank you for your consideration.
On Behalf of the Macedonian Bektashi Community