Belgrade's Mufti says the mosque did not have building permit. Neither did the local church, which was not demolished.

Five hundred families of Muslim faith are living in Zemun Polje.
Five hundred families of Muslim faith are living in Zemun Polje. (TRT World and Agencies)

Serbian police officers gathered to oversee the demolition of a mosque under construction in Zemun Polje, a suburb in the Serbian capital of Belgrade on Thursday, Al Jazeera Balkans reported.

However a standoff ensued when the demolition attempt was blocked by a large number of protesters who gathered to protect the new building.

Belgrade authorities were scheduled to demolish the religious building at 8 am. The media had also been blocked by authorities from reporting on the demolition.

Due to the large number of protesters, the police cordon withdrew at 9.30 and the demolition was postponed indefinitely.

Belgrade Mufti Mustafa ef. Jusufspahic told Al Jazeera that the reason for the demolition was the lack of a building permit for the mosque in the village.

He said that there was a backlog of building permits where permits for scores of other buildings had not been issued, including the local church.

There has been a history of demolishing mosques by pan-ethnic Serbian groups, some of them ancient buildings. Sixteen mosques were destroyed in the city of Banja Luka during the Bosnian War between 1992 and 1995.

Former Yugoslavia Serb leader from Banja Luka Radoslav Brdjanin was convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for his part in organising the destruction of Muslim property including mosques.

The destruction of the prominent Ferhat Pasha mosque in Banja Luka was cited as an example of ethnic cleansing and genocide on the part of Republika Srpska authorities during the Bosnian War.

Source: TRT World