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Montenegro passes law on religious communities

Fight breaks out between ruling, opposition lawmakers during session

Talha Ozturk   | 27.12.2019
Montenegro passes law on religious communities


A fight broke out in Montenegrin Assembly during a session on religious freedoms early Friday.

A bill, strongly opposed by the Serbian Orthodox Church and the opposition Democratic Front party, began to be discussed at the General Assembly on Thursday.

The opposition lawmakers tried to prevent the vote after midnight. Despite the efforts of the opposition's proposal to amend the bill, their proposals were rejected three times.

Afterwards, there was a melee between the opposition MPs and some ruling MPs who threw water bottles at Parliament speaker Ivan Brajovic and some deputies.

The deputies from the opposition party were removed from the General Assembly hall and taken into custody after the intervention of the security forces.

Following the intervention, measures for necessary security were taken and the voting was held. The bill passed in the parliament.

Serbian Orthodox members protested against the draft law, which was prepared at the request of Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic in June.

The draft legislation adopts the Serbian churches in the country as "state property".

The bill envisions that churches built in Montenegro after World War I and those built before the country became part of the Serbian, Croatian and Slovenian Kingdom to become state property.

The Serbian Orthodox Church is the dominant religious organization in Montenegro as well as the Montenegrin Orthodox Church despite Montenegro's independence from Serbia.

Montenegro declared its independence from Serbia on May 21, 2006 after a referendum.

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