The office of the head of the Islamic Community in Macedonia Shaqir Fetai denied the claim that he denounced nationalist chants during the recent Albanian protest in Skopje. Protesters demanded the release of a group of Albanian islamists who killed four Christian Macedonian boys and a man in 2012, in an apparent attempt to spark a religious war.

Albanian parties, media and the community in general often indulge in conspiracy theories, claiming that the murders were some kind of a false flag operation. These theories got a major boost from Zoran Zaev, who for years openly claimed that he has evidence that will throw a very different light on the Good Friday massacre. After using this polarization to feed his 2015 Colored Revolution and to grab power with the help of Albanian voters and parties, in early 2020 Zaev was finally called before the court where he said that he has no new evidence.

With the re-trial coming to an end and sentencing for those of the islamists who still haven’t fled the country expected in late February, Albanian protesters marched last Friday, after the prayer, and among other things, chanted the name of the NLA/UCK terrorist organization which started the 2001 war and called for a Greater Albania – a unification of Albania, Kosovo and parts of Macedonia, Greece, Serbia and Montenegro into a major Albanian nation state.

After the protest, Stojance Angelov, a populist/nationalist Macedonian politician allied with Zaev, currently appointed as head of the Crisis Management Center, met with Shaqir Fetai in his Islamic Community office, and afterwards issued a press release. Angelov claimed that both he and Fetai condemned the UCK and Greater Albania chants. But Fetai responded that Angelov is misrepresenting what was said during the meeting, expresses his support for the UCK and underlines the conspiracy theory that the massacre was “staged”.

In a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional society, as in Macedonia, tolerance, cooperation and mutual respect are the basis on which to build a shared democratic state and the rule of law, rights and liberties of all citizens must be guaranteed, regardless of their religious and ethnic background. Trials placed on an ethnic or religious basis must not be used to destroy the fates of innocent individuals and our democratic society as a whole. The right to protest and express your opinion freely are democratic values and undeniably part of the human rights, or our society and our individuals. So we must condemn any attempt to limit these rights or abuse them for narrow private interests or provocations. It is an undeniable fact, and we are proud of it, that the UCK is our value, it changed the political and the legal status of the Albanians, and perhaps all other communities in the Republic of (North) Macedonia and resulted with the signing of the international Ohrid peace treaty, which was built into the Constitution of R(N)M and opened the path for the reform process toward Euro-Atlantic integrations (EU and NATO) of the R(N)M. National and historic values, such as the UCK, were not and can’t be a matter of discussion. The attempt to put a portion of our conversation out of context is biased and ill-intentioned, the Islamic Community said, rejecting Angelov’s interpretation of what was said during the meeting.