There were no reports of abuses of religious freedoms.
Religious leaders stated the lack of a mechanism for religious groups to register and obtain legal status created a number of practical challenges. Although many groups found alternative methods, a number of them reported challenges in owning and registering property and vehicles, opening bank accounts, and paying taxes on employees’ salaries.
Protestants continued to allege institutional discrimination by central and municipal governments. They complained of not being allowed to establish a Protestant cemetery, which frequently resulted in Protestants being buried in Muslim graveyards and Muslim clerics performing funeral services for Protestants. Protestants claimed this circumstance was a violation of their right to be buried among those of their faith and the imposition of another religious tradition.
The Kosovo Islamic Community (known by its Albanian-language acronym BIK) and Muslim-oriented nongovernmental organizations reported that students were prevented from attending public schools while wearing Islamic headscarves. In 2010 the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology issued an administrative instruction prohibiting pre-university students from wearing Islamic headscarves. School administrators selectively applied this instruction and previous instructions from the ministry. The BIK reported that during the year 13 students were expelled from schools for wearing headscarves. The Ombudsperson’s office reported that three additional pre-university students were not allowed to attend school while wearing headscarves and two university students were not allowed to attend the Faculty of Education while wearing headscarves.
On September 23 the Constitutional Court issued a ruling in the case of a secondary school student who alleged her constitutional rights were violated in 2009 when school administrators told her she was not permitted to wear a headscarf to public school. The court ruled the case inadmissible because remedies at the municipal level had not been exhausted. The ruling went on to state that the facts of the case did not support an allegation of denial of constitutional rights. The ruling cited European Court of Human Rights decisions related to religious dress in public institutions that allowed for restriction of religious freedom “in order to reconcile the interests of the various groups and ensure that everyone’s beliefs are respected.”
On August 29 the Assembly rejected two amendments to the law on education proposed by the Islamic-oriented Justice Party. The amendments would have brought religious education to public schools and lifted the administrative ban on headscarves in public schools. After a heated debate on the Assembly floor, the amendment on headscarves was rejected by a 48 to 39 vote, while the amendment on religious education failed in a vote of 64 to18. The Assembly debate also prompted several weeks of extensive coverage of Islam-state relations, with many opinion and editorial pieces calling for the country to remain committed to its strong secular foundation.
In August the Assembly reviewed draft legislation to establish special protective zones for the historic center of Prizren and the village of Velika Hoca/Hoce e Madhe, which contain numerous examples of religious and cultural heritage dating as far back as the thirteenth century. This process resulted in heated debates and criticism that the laws would create special status for Serb cultural objects. Many parliamentarians made claims about the country’s Serbian cultural heritage that some Serbs considered offensive. SOC representatives expressed concern that the Assembly’s stance on these two draft laws represented a troubling opposition to the Ahtisaari Plan-mandated protection of the SOC.
In July the Rahovec/Orahavac municipal government began work on a road along the edge of the special protected zone (SPZ) of the Zociste Monastery, which is a violation of SPZ law. The work damaged the monastery’s walls.
Protestants reported the municipality of Decan/Decani continued to deny them permission to build a church facility on land they had purchased. The municipality cited negative reaction from local citizens as the reason for the denial. The Protestant community appealed the denial of a building permit to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court upheld the denial of the permit in a 2008 decision, but the Protestant community only learned of the ruling in October. The Court stated it did not have the proper address of the Protestant community in order to provide notice of the ruling in a timely manner. While general judicial inefficiency may have been a factor in the delay, the Protestant community remained concerned that the judiciary was hesitant to rule in cases related to religious communities and excessively delayed decisions and provision of information in these cases.