Many nations base their mythology on battles, lost or won. It will be interesting to see, how 28 March 2009 will be seen in the future of Macedonian national mythology. For me it will be remembered as the day of national defloration. The young nation has lost its virginity, a taboo has been broken.
On this sunny Saturday, a group of young urbanites was prevented from expressing two of their fundamental rights: the one to gather in peaceful protest, the other to freely express their opinion. And to make it worse – they were “prevented” by blank violence, exercised by a bunch of hooded hooligans – in the name of the church, in the name of Christianity.
All they did was to call a protest against the government’s plan to build a church on the main square. The organisers, students of architecture and an independent group of concerned urbanites, managed to gather some 100 people to the protest, under the slogan: “Don’t rape Skopje!” The manifestation was registered with the relevant authorities.
The protest was countered by a mass of up to 1500 church goers, mobilized from all over the country, who gathered to stop the protest from happening. The “spontaneous” and thus not registered counter-protest featured church flags, printed banners, a priest and a lot of people, who have no connection whatsoever to urban Skopje, but who were bussed in from rural areas to fight the Anti-Christ. A large number of expensively produced flyers flooded the city centre – clear indications of a logistically well organized movement. They were in majority, so the actual manifestation remained marginal and actually was about to retreat, when a group of violent hooligans appeared out of nowhere. They started shouting racist slogans, calling the demonstrators traitors and – worse in their little fascist universe – Albanians. It was very obvious that the bunch of young men, displaying a behaviour denoting the average IQ of a lamp-post was lead by a few elder men. These were clearly directing the event, steering the aggression and channelling it. Interestingly enough, some of them were bold enough to wear orange shirts, the colour of the ruling party. Honi soit qui mal y pense… The heated up hooligans attacked individual participants in the protest, using the only intellectual arguments accessible to them – fists and legs. It is almost a miracle that there were only few injuries.
All this was happening under the eyes of a stunningly passive police force, which was obviously not able to cope with the events. So they did the obvious – they turned against the protesters. These are now under investigation for not having provided adequate security to their manifestation. No, this is not some sick joke. It is true.
The so-called Christians watched the event passively and at the best insulted the protesters. Not a single voice was heard against the violence. Not one.
Macedonia has not been poor in violent conflicts since its slipping into independence in 1991. Power groups staged all kinds of conflicts, whether inter-ethnic or social, keeping the country in a state of limbo, in a permanent transition. But there always was a consensus that peaceful protest can take place, sometimes really bending the concept – like for road-blocks, a technique often used by laid-off workers. Breaking this consensus and using white trash scum as a militia to fight off protest from the upcoming intellectual elite of this society is a bad signal, to say the least. And political parties trying to capitalise on this event for their election campaigns is equally disgusting.
Building a church on the planned location is an idea, which has provoked a lot of discussion. From an aesthetic point of view it is sheer nonsense. But the need of legitimizing the current stream of consciousness dominating Macedonian society is producing temple after temple,
in a hurry, like there’s no tomorrow. The spirit of the collective bears its totalitarian dangers as it does elsewhere – suppression of individual opinion, of alternative concepts, polarisation into US and THEM, streamlining information and the access to it, etc. In a society as small as the Macedonian one, this should provoke more than one raised eyebrow. As for Skopje, the attempt to silence the urban, individualist, liberal stream of consciousness, as small as it may be, will not pay off in the long run. It has resisted all kinds of totalitarian challenges, and will hopefully continue to do so. And it deserves our support. Unconditionally.
Vision? Yet another endangered species…