A protest took place yesterday at noon in Pristina against the construction of a mosque funded by Turkey. The foundation stone for the so-called “Grand Mosque” was laid in 2012, but its construction was delayed due to the reactions that were manifested in the society about the way it was financed.
On Wednesday morning, protesters called for a rally on the internet to take place at noon outside the construction site, demanding that the construction of the mosque be stopped with the slogan: “Kosovo is not a province of Turkey.” Several hundred citizens took part in this protest rally, but, at the same time, a counter-protest was organized by those who advocate for the construction of the mosque. There was tension at the moment but no incidents occurred.
This is not the first time that Turkey’s policy in Kosovo has caused division and tensions. In 2013, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during his visit to Pristina, stated that “Turkey is Kosovo and Kosovo is Turkey.” A phrase that provoked reactions from political figures in Pristina and was described as an expression of “neo-Ottomanism.”
Pristina holds that Turkey is trying to exploit the indifference of the West and increase its influence in Kosovo, which now is considered as Turkey’s province. Economic investment and religion are the means Ankara uses to establish a presence in Kosovo, analysts say. The mosque in Pristina is not the first mosque built by Turkey in Kosovo. Other mosques have been built with Bajram Pasha Mosque being the largest, which is located in South Mitrovica, opposite the northern Serbian part of the city.