Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Two Female LDS Missionaries Assaulted In Kosovo; Two Of Six Suspected Islamic Terrorists Arrested Are Also Accused Of This Crime

This story first hit the wire late on November 12th, 2013, but the attack on the missionaries was almost an afterthought. Attracting more attention was the story of a group of seven Islamic terrorists in Kosovo, identified as Genc Selimi, Nuredin Sylejmani, Valon Shala, Adrian Mehmeti, Musli Hyseni, Bekim Mulalli and Fidan Demolli, who have been accused of preparing a terrorist act against the safety and constitutional order of the country, and six of them were arrested on November 5th. The seventh is still at large.

However, two of the suspected terrorists have also been accused of assaulting two female missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the capital of Pristina on November 3rd. According to KSL Channel 5, the two had been followed home, thrown down a flight of stairs, and then hit in the head with a sharp object. They had multiple head wounds. Medical personnel shaved their heads and stitched them up. The LDS Church said they had moved the two missionaries out of the area to the mission home in Tirana, Albania, and that the two were recovering. Kosovo lies within the boundaries of the Adriatic South Mission, which also includes Albania and Macedonia. Neither the two missionaries nor the specific individuals who attacked them have been publicly identified as of this post.

An August 2012 post on Religion & Politics provides more background on the challenges faced by LDS missionaries in Kosovo. The picture painted is that of a country that responds favorably to Americans because of our military intervention on their behalf in 1999 (the 78-day bombing campaign against Serbia), but less favorably towards Mormonism. Missionaries report that while the locals aren't particularly interested in hearing about the Church, they will still invite the missionaries in to socialize. Most of the locals are Muslim. It does not appear as if Kosovo is significantly more dangerous to missionaries than any other locations.

The LDS Church first dedicated Kosovo for missionary work in September 2010. The first actual branch was organized in Pristina in January 2011, and the first missionaries officially assigned to Pristina in July 2011. Since that time, proselytization has begin in a second Kosovo city, Gjakove. also provides a detailed summary of Church growth in the Balkans.

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