BELGRADE (Reuters) – Local authorities demolished an illegal mosque on the outskirts of Belgrade after Serbian police secured the area in a pre-dawn action on Friday, ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, despite protests by local Muslims and Islamic clergy.
The construction of a two-storey mosque without a minaret in the Zemun Polje neighbourhood started in 2014 even though the authorities had refused to grant it a construction permit.
On Thursday, the authorities attempted the demolition of the building but withdrew after protests by Muslims from the neighbourhood, mainly members of the Roma (Gypsy) minority. Early on Friday, they returned with the police escort and tore down much of building.
Belgrade’s city manager Goran Vesic said the authorities “destroyed an illegally built building, in line with law,” the Tanjug news agency reported.
(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Daria Sito-Sucic and Pritha Sarkar)