Add this to the never ending list of historic disputes in and over Macedonia. The monastery of St. John Bigorski near Debar is celebrating the 1,000 anniversary is its founding.
The belovedshrine is celebrated with sermons, concerts and even a light show. It is respected by both Christians and Muslims who rushed together to help during a fire a decade ago, and is also highly valued by Bulgarian pilgrims and Government officials who have flocked to visit it recently.
But ethnic Albanian commentator Arsim Zekoli now claims that the monastery was historically under Albanian jurisdiction. As Albanians in Macedonia are overwhelmingly Muslim, this is a novel demand, but the monastery is in a majority Albanian part of the country.
The monastery survived a 1,000 years but by some “coincidence” it caught fire in 2009, mainly its library and historic records, Zekoli opined, raising a conspiracy theory that the fire was no accident and was meant to obscure the Albanian character of the shrine.