Thousands Protest New Montenegro Government’s Plan to Amend Religion Law

Thousands gathered outside the parliament building in Podgorica on Dec. 28 to protest the plan of the new government to amend a religious property law that the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) strongly oppose.

Thousands gathered outside the parliament building in Podgorica on Dec. 28 to protest the plan of the new government to amend a religious property law that the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) strongly oppose.

Defying COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings, the crowd of protesters — many appearing without masks — rallied for the first major protest against the coalition government outside the Parliament where lawmakers plan to discuss the proposed amendments to the controversial religion law, which the SPC alleged as a means to remove the church of its property.

The protesters accused the new government of being pro-Serb, for setting the stage for the “occupation” of Montenegro, and for attempting to “erase the Montenegrin state and national identity.”

When the parliamentary vote to amend the law that would ensure that the properties of the SPC will remain in their hands has yet to be made clear.

The Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) originally passed the religious property law in 2019, which was met with months of protests led by SPC because it could see hundreds of SPC monasteries turned into Montenegrin state property.

The SPC-led protests helped the pro-Serb opposition bloc to win against the DPS, which is led by President Milo Djukanovic, in the August parliamentary elections.

Montenegro declared independence from Serbia in a 2006 referendum, but their histories, cultures, and identities continue to be deeply interconnected as some identify as Serb and SPC remains to be the main religious institution in the country.


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