ASKING WETHER THEY CAN VOTE FOR A MUSLIM
Several Orthodox Christian believers from Macedonia’s central town of Negotino, worried they would be committing a sin if they vote for Muslim candidate Imer Selmani in this Sunday's presidential elections, have asked, and got the blessing to do so from their local priest.
This unusual request came as the presidential race intensifies ahead of the March 22 poll.
“Since I consider myself to be a big believer, and my fellow citizens know me as one, I consulted my priest in order not to make a mistake, since Imer Selmani is a Muslim,” said one Negotino resident to the local ''Dnevnik'' newspaper.
He said that he is honestly considering voting for Selmani because, “unlike the rest of the candidates, he [Selmani] has insulted no one during the campaign”.
The priest from Macedonia’s Orthodox Church also cited by the newspaper gave his blessing to the believers to vote for whom they like.
“The Bible says that every authority is God given. It makes no difference whether you vote for a Muslim or a Christian. It is God’s will who will win”, the priest replied to the question.
According to the newspaper more and more people from this mainly Orthodox town populated with ethnic Macedonians are considering voting for the ethnic Albanian Selmani, comparing him to Barack Obama who became the first US president with an African American background. Macedonians and Albanians have typically voted for representatives from their own ethnic groups in the past.
Various opinion polls show that Selmani has a serious chance of becoming the first ethnic Albanian presidential candidate to ever enter the second round of Macedonia's presidential elections, slated for April 5.
In 2001 the country suffered an ethnic Albanian armed insurgency. The hostilities ended with the signing of the Ohrid peace accord that granted greater rights to Albanians, which make up about one quarter of the population.
Unlike the other six candidates whose rhetoric during the campaign targets mainly their own ethnicity, Selmani, who readily admits that he was inspired by Obama’s victory in the US, stages rallies in areas populated by the Macedonian majority as well as in the parts of the country where the Albanian community lives.