Thursday, January 03, 2008

Statue of "Turkish enemy" placed in Macedonian capital elicits protests

Turkish and Muslim community members in the Macedonian capital Skopje are protesting the "inappropriate" placement of a large statue in honor of Macedonian leader Gjergi Kastrioti, who led a rebellion against the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century, trying to block domination of Balkan lands by Turkey.

The statue, whose creation and placement has been funded in part by the Macedonian Ministry of Culture, was placed by Skopje authorities near the entrance to the capital city's historical Turkish Bazaar. Members of the Merhamet Foundation and the local El-Hilal Foundation, most of whom are ethnically Albanian, have said "There are many heroes in Albanian history other than Kastrioti. The placing of this statue commemorating this man who abandoned Islam and who rebelled against the government makes us as uncomfortable as it does our sibling Turkish members of the community. We see the particular placement of this statue, in front of the Turkish market, as an attempt at mischief-making in our community."

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