Dozens of people protested against Kosovo’s renowned DokuFest film festival after photographs of a performance by queer feminist singer Peaches in the city of Prizren caused controversy on social media.
Protesters joined a rally called by the local Islamic Community on Friday afternoon in front of the main mosque in the southern Kosovo town of Prizren to protest against the annual DokuFest documentary festival after it hosted a concert by the Canadian feminist electro-pop singer artist Peaches, an LGBT cultural icon.
Photographs posted on social media from Peaches’ performance at DokuFest earlier in the week, which featured the singer and two dancers wearing body-revealing costumes, caused outrage among social conservatives in Kosovo.
The head of Prizren’s Islamic Community, Besim Berisha, said that children should be “strictly kept away from this degeneracy”.
Burim Shpejti, one of the organisers of the protest, which started after Friday prayers, said that “the performance shown does not fit with our tradition and culture”.
“We have parental concerns because we are parent and our children are in danger of falling prey to such degenerate organisations,” he added.
Shpejti called on the Kosovo authorities “to be more careful when approving these activities and ask for more information and evidence to maintain public order, especially when our institutions are financing [these activities] with our taxes”.
DokuFest pointed out however that the Peaches performance was held at 1.30am and no one without tickets was allowed to enter the venue.
“Allegations and slander that there were children in attendance at the concert do not stand and they make the justification for the protest unsustainable,” DokuFest told BIRN in a written response.
“There could be disagreements about the artistic aspect of cultural events during the festival but we should remind everyone that fortunately we live in a free and democratic country where freedom of expression is guaranteed by the constitution,” it added.
From humble beginnings in 2002, Dokufest has grown to become the biggest cultural event in Kosovo, bringing visitors and much-needed cash to Prizren, a city in the foothills of the Sharr Mountains that was once a prosperous trading hub in the days of the Ottoman Empire.
Moments before Friday’s protest, Vullnet Krasniqi and Arber Latifi, a journalist and cameraman of Prishtina-based Nacionale news website, were attacked by some protesters, an incident which was condemned by the Association of Journalists of Kosovo, AJK.
“This attack is unacceptable and it represents a threat to journalists’ safety. The AJK urges the police to immediately arrest the attackers and bring them to justice,” AJK said.
12 August 2023 - 14:09
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