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Leaders of religious communities united on Kosovo’s membership in UNESCO

Leaders of religious communities have come together on the occasion of Kosovo’s application for membership in the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO). They have sent a joint letter to the Director General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, and the delegations of the member states of UNESCO.

The letter was signed by Mufti Naim Tërnava, Head of Islamic Community of Kosovo, Dr. Dom Lush Gjergji, General Vicar of the Roman Catholic Church in Kosovo, Pastor Driton Krasniqi, Head of Protestant Church of Kosovo, Sheh Lulzim Shehu, Union of Kosovo Sufi Tarikates, Baba Mumin Lama, Head of Kosovo Bektashi Community, and Votim Demiri, Head of Kosovo Jewish Community.
Below you will find the full letter signed by the leaders of religious communities in Kosovo. Honorable Madam Director General, We are you on behalf of the vast majority of all the religious communities in Kosovo that represent 96% of all the population of Kosovo. Please consider this letter as a further argument in your support for the membership of Kosovo in UNESCO.

Kosovo has always been at the crossroads of civilizations, empires and religions. Even today, although the majority of the population considers itself Sunni Muslim, strong historic presence of Orthodox Christian, Roman Catholic, Muslim Bektashi, Muslim Sufi, Evangelical Protestant and Jewish communities and others enrich the joint land that we call Kosovo. We consider to have been truly blessed with this richness. We cherish the historic tolerance and interfaith cooperation although a vicious war tore apart our country only 16 years ago.

Kosovo is the country where a young girl named Gonxhe Gojaxhiu took her first vows to become Mother Teresa of the entire humanity and where Albanian Muslim Righteous families hid Jews to save them from Shoah or Holocaust. The richness and diversity needs preserving and protecting. Too much of our heritage was lost throughout history, especially in the last decades. Houses of God must remain intact so they serve as lighthouses for future generations.

Borders and empires come and go, but all the people, regardless of religion, must have their Houses of God intact. This being said, the religious communities of Kosovo today have contributed great to build peaceful, tolerant society where we can coexist and support each other, regardless of our ethnicity or religion. These efforts have been noted in the reports of Secretary General of UN, Ban Ki-moon. This is why we strongly support Kosovo’s membership to UNESCO. We are neither political individuals nor representatives of political organizations.

This being said, we believe that Kosovo’s secular authorities must have all tools at disposal, legal, technical and financial, to protect our joint heritage – and we, as religious communities, must also have all tools at disposal to pressure present and future governments of Kosovo to be mindful and commit themselves to protection of our sites, traditions, intangible and tangible heritage.

We hope you will do your utmost to support Kosovo’s bid. Leaving our population isolated and without direct access to UNESCO will not help the cause of protection of our joint heritage, promotion of interfaith dialogue and inclusive approach to all peace-loving people in the world. You must also understand that Kosovo’s population is very young and in need of good education, access to science and connected toglobal culture

Leaders of Islamic Community of Kosovo, Roman Catholic Church, Jewish Community of Kosovo, Sufi Tarikates, Protestant Church of Kosovo and Bektashi Community, signed a joint letter endorsing Kosovo’s bid for UNESCO membership