Montenegro’s police used tear gas late last night to disperse dozens of supporters of the Serbian Orthodox Church, who were protesting against the newly adopted law on freedom of religion or belief and legal status of religious communities.
The rallies took place after the Bishops’ Council of the Serbian Orthodox Church, to which most of Montenegro’s 620,000 inhabitants belong, had issued a communiqué calling on believers to “gather in temples in order to pray… and show that we will succumb to the Montenegrin regime.”
Under the law, which was adopted on Friday, religious communities must prove that they owned their property before 1918, when the Kingdom of Montenegro was united with the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, the predecessor of the now-defunct Yugoslavia.
If they cannot prove the ownership, the state takes over ownership of their property. The Serbian Orthodox Church argued that the Montenegrin state wanted to seize its assets, something the government denied.