srpska pravoslavna crkva.jpg
Photograph: Photo by Theodore C, used under CC BY-ND

The Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Irinej, has said that Serbs in Croatia live in fear even today, recalling the crimes committed against their ancestors during War War II, stressing that the Serbian Orthodox Church was strongly against the canonisation of Zagreb Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac because of his behaviour in the said period, the Russian pro-government news agency Sputnik reported in its Serbian news desk.

"Fear is still present among the Serb people and there is no freedom there. Many (Serbs) in Zagreb are looking over their shoulders to see if anybody's watching while they are going to church. This is happening in a Christian, Catholic country where we were one Church until the 11th century, where we considered ourselves as related peoples until yesterday, where we lived together and fought together for our rights in Austria-Hungary. Today, Serbs live in fear of going through what millions of their ancestors had gone through ," Irinej said in his interview with Sputnik.

To back his claims he cited a report he had received from a Serb boarding school in Zagreb which says that the school is exposed to attacks on a daily basis.

Asked about disputes regarding the canonisation of Cardinal Stepinac, Irinej said he wrote a letter about that to Pope Francis, adding that even today stories are told that Stepinac had not done anything to save Serbs in the so-called Independent State of Croatia from persecution and death.

Irinej confirmed he would travel to Banja Luka on January 9 to attend the marking of Republika Srpska Day, regardless of the fact that the Bosnia and Herzegovina Constitutional Court had declared that holiday unconstitutional.

Irinej backed Republika Srpska president Milorad Dodik's claims that the Bosnian Serb entity was in fact a country.

On 9 January 1992, the Bosnian Serb assembly proclaimed the Republic of the Serb People of Bosnia and Herzegovina, announcing its separation from the rest of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Bosnian Constitutional Court ruled that marking 9 January was unacceptable as it was imposed on Croats and Bosniaks on the Republika Srpska territory and it reflected the will of only one of the three constitutional peoples in the country.

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