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Montenegro's Muslims Stage Mass Prayer to Mark 'Genocide'

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Balkan Insight

More than 2,000 Bosniaks and ethnic Albanians prayed together to mark the 100th anniversary of what they allege was genocide against their ancestors.

Milena Milosevic

BIRN

Podgorica

The collective religious ritual took place on Tuesday, in the municipality of Plav in eastern Montenegro, to mark the anniversary of mass killings of Bosniaks and Albanians nearby 100 years ago.

Bosniak organisations claim that more than 1,800 Muslims from Plav and the nearby municipality of Gusinje were killed and more than 12,000 of them forcibly converted to Christianity during the 1912-13 Balkan wars.

Montenegro at that time was an independent monarchy under the leadership of King Nicolas, and under his rule, the territories that make up today's municipalities of Plav and Gusinje became part of the country.

"The loose historical argument that central government did not have control over the newly-acquired territories cannot be a justification of a massive crime," said Rifat Fejzic, leader of Montenegro's Islamic community, during Tuesday's ceremony.

Orhan Sahmanovic, the mayor of Plav, called for a memorial to the victims to be built.

"A memorial to the victims is our obligation, and it will be our reminder of the moment of terror and guarantee that the crimes will not be repeated," he said.

Historian Serbo Rastoder told daily Vijesti on Wednesday that documents and scientific research indicates that the killings and forced conversions happened, but the Montenegrin public remains ignorant of the facts.

More than 15 per cent of Montenegro's population are Bosniaks and Albanians.

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