One injured as Islamic Community factions clash

A group of some 50 perosns described as worshipers on Monday took over the seat of the Islamic Community in Skopje, Macedonian and Albanian language media said.

Source: B92, Beta, Tanjug
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Previously, reports from the Macedonian capital said that a group of 50 armed persons had seized the building.

The Macedonian daily Vesti reported that the people gathered there today were "dissatisfied because of the dismissal of the Skopje mufti," Ibrahim Shabani.

Shabani addressed reporters later on Monday to say that the reason he and his supporters used took control of the Islamic Community by force was that its leadership had trampled on the organization's normative acts and constitution, "so that its behavior could not be tolerated."

Shabani also announced that one person sustained "light injuries" during the storming of the building this morning. According to him, the Islamic Community now has interim leadership, headed by him. Shabani also said he and his supporters took over the organization's seals, "and will keep believers informed."

The police, who were informed a rally would be organized in front of the building in protest of the decision last week to sack the mufti of Skopje, said that "one shell casing" was found at the premises after this morning's showdown between the two factions of the Islamic Community in Macedonia.

All this comes after the head of the Islamic Religious Community in Macedonia Sulejman Rexhepi on Wednesday, after he was reelected to the role, dismissed Shabani. According to some reports, "he did not wish to explain why he held a secret session in Kondovo where he was unlawfully reelected."

According to Skopje-based media, the whereabouts of Rexhepi were unknown on Monday. A message posted on his Facebook account suggested he was "abducted by armed persons who are holding him in an unknown location."

The incident happened as a 48-hour ultimatum, that Mufti Ibrahim Shabani gave to the head of the Islamic Religious Community in Macedonia Sulejman Rexhepi to apologize for his insults, was about to expire.

According to the daily Dnevnik, Rexhepi and Shabani recently engaged first in verbal and then physical altercation in front of the Opera House in Skopje.

The fight came after a dinner organized by the Islamic Community, and after Rexhepi referred to Shabani's associates as criminals, reported the paper.

After they quarreled in the parking lot, Rexhepi "beat the mufti up."

However, the Islamic Religious Community in Macedonia at the time described the daily's report as "lies."

Sources "close to the Community" have been quoted as saying that "a dispute over money" was behind the dispute.

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