Today, thousands gathered in Belgrade to pay their final respects to Serbian Patriarch Irinej, who succumbed to COVID-19 on Friday. His casket was covered in plexiglass and occasionally sprayed with disinfectant.

Here's a 🧵on his controversial legacy.…
This comes a month after the Patriarch attended the funeral of bishop Amfilohije in Montenegro, who also succumbed to COVID.

Both are thought to be the religious arm of Serbian nationalist politics in the region, although they enjoy significant respect from average Serb citizens
The nationalist tensions and return to "traditional" values that took place after the fall of communism saw church leaders reclaim their influence in society. Many had no qualms about supporting nationalist political figures, lending "divine legitimacy" to their actions.
In 2010 when Irinej became Patriarch, he said that Muslims are only acceptable in small numbers and "once they become superior, they start to exert pressure." It was compared to times when the church was expected to do more to condemn ethnic cleansing, instead of encouraging it.
He was vocal in condemning the Belgrade Pride Parade and said it was "imposed by the homosexual lobby and their mentors from Western Europe." Remember, Serbia has a lesbian PM. For years, the pride parade was organized under heavy police protection due to safety concerns.
He supported conservative voices in the country, which sometimes included President Vucic, in promoting the view that Serbian women should have as many children as possible. He condemned abortions because it was the women's duty to "give birth in order to regenerate the nation."
He made several controversial statements about neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina, which includes encouraging the breakaway of the Serbia-adjacent province and attending its "statehood day," and called the handing down of war crimes judgments a global conspiracy against Serbs.
The recognition of Kosovo has come up often, as expected, because of its significance in Serbian Orthodox history and the churches and property found there. First, he called the recognition of Kosovo a sin, but then applauded President Vucic for his efforts in solving the issue.
A side note: the seat of the Serbian Orthodox Church is in the Pec Patriarchate in Kosovo yet the Patriarch spends most of his time in Belgrade. I've personally always found this to be amusing.
Lastly, he has often spoken out against protests in Serbia. When someone who plays such a significant role in the intimate lives of Serbian citizens condemns any form of dissent against President Vucic, it means something, especially for Serbs who do not live in urban areas.
Oh he also met with Bashar al Assad, a continuation of the tendency of some Eastern Orthodox leaders (and parts of the *cough* political left) to support those they feel are "standing up to the West" and whose countries have been subject to "foreign interventions."
While this might be quite the rap sheet, Irinej was not an outlier. His opinions are comparable to many Orthodox leaders. However, with Orthodoxy being so closely tied to tradition and everyday life for many Eastern Europeans, their views should definitely be open to criticism.

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More from @UnaHajdari

4 Aug
This August 5th marks the 25th anniversary of Operation Storm, a military operation which ended the war in Croatia. In Croatia it is seen as a monumental victory yet in Serbia it’s a day of mourning.

This year the rhetoric around it is particularly heated, so here’s a 🧵.
On Tuesday evening, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic spoke at an event on the Serbian-Bosnian border. He said “we will never be weak again,” referring to the many Croat Serbs killed and hundreds of thousands expelled from Croatia during the operation.
He spoke in front of an installation of actors on tractors, holding Serbian Orthodox icons, and bags with clothes — meant to reconstruct the convoys of Croatian Serbs leaving the country in droves.…
Read 11 tweets
16 May
Today, thousands protested in Sarajevo against an event mourning the deaths of the leaders of the Croatian WWII Nazi puppet state.

Sarajevo once again proved to be the beating heart of resistance in Bosnia and the wider Balkan region (🧵below)…
Background: The Nazis set up one of the most sophisticated satellite states through Ante Pavelic and the Croatian Ustasha party. When the Yugoslav partisans won WWII, the Ustasha, their armed forces, and affiliated civilians wanted to evade reprisals from the victorious Partisans
Their plan was to surrender to the British Army in Austria (even though the British had largely collaborated with the Partisans), banking on anti-communist sentiments in the West and offering to help them unseat the Yugoslav communists in the future.
Read 13 tweets
16 May
As in other parts of Europe, the issue of locals/civilians collaborating with Nazis remains a sensitive topic. While many willingly assisted the pro-Nazi regimes in their countries, many others were either left with no other option or coerced into it. Did they deserve to die?
But the event organized by the Church today was not *only* about the innocent civilians. I have personally been to the annual mass supported by the same Church leaders in honor of Ante Pavelic, the Croatian fascist dictator, in Zagreb.
After the fall of Yugoslavia, those who felt the Croatian national identity was subdued by the communist regime honored the Nazi period as a time of "true Croatian patriotism." During the war in the 1990s, some soldiers and commanders adopted the symbols of the Nazi puppet state.
Read 10 tweets
14 Nov 18
Mira Ricardiel's father publicly defended Andrija Artukovic, the Interior Minister of the Croatian Nazi puppet-state who personally issued racial laws that sent Jews, Serbs, communists, and Roma to their deaths. Yugoslavia sought his extradition in 1984.…
I have not come across any statements made by Ricardiel herself defending such approaches or glorifying the NDH, I'm just surprised that she chooses to list her father's "survival in the Bleiburg Massacre" in a couple of her biographies found online.
One shouldn't chastise Mira for the crimes of the father, it's just fascinating for a WWII dork like me when I see someone so high up in the White House being associated with the NDH.
Read 4 tweets

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