We’ve heard about such boorish comments from Father Kcira of St. Paul’s Albanian Catholic Church in Rochester Hills for quite some time.
From information that I’ve gathered, some of his own Albanian American parishioners objected to Kcira’s speech and informed their Muslim kinsmen about it. Moreover, it appears that it was one the church’s congregants that provided the video of Kcira’s seemingly praise of the Serbian butcher of Bosnians during his genocide bloodlust of Muslims in the 1990’s.
After my viewing of this video over one month ago per request of the Albanian Muslim community, we arranged a meeting between some of its leaders and the local Archdiocese regarding concerns of the local community. Kcira’s comments last week were featured in a news story on Albanian national television, which has caused a controversy half way across the globe.
With video: Catholic priest called ethnic war victims ‘dogs’
Local religious leaders upset by videotaped remarks against Bosnia, Kosovo populations
Oralandar Brand-Williams / The Detroit News
Rochester Hills — A local Catholic priest is at the center of an international controversy after a tape of him calling victims of a massacre during President Slobodan Milosevic’s regime “dogs” went viral.
The Rev. Anton Kcira, pastor of St. Paul Albanian Catholic Church, is seen in a 2007 videotape making offensive remarks in Albanian about people killed during the reign of former Serbian and Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic, who was accused of genocide of Bosnian Muslims and Albanians in Kosovo.
The videotape was recently released by an unidentified person who shot it at an event in Metro Detroit in 2007 attended by Albanian-Americans.
In the video, Kcira says, with English subtitles, “Milosevic should have done to the 1,900,000 dogs in Kosovo what he did to the 260,000 dogs in Srebrenica.”
Local Muslim activists say the remarks are references tocrimes against the Muslim population of Bosnia and the majority Muslim population of Kosovo.
Kcira was recorded shortly after the arrests of three ethnic Albanian men who were charged with and later convicted in a plot to attack the military base in Fort Dix, N.J.
In the tape Kcira appears frustrated that the three men have betrayed the United States by planning a terrorist attack on a U.S. military base.
The Archdiocese of Detroit was contacted recently by many in the Albanian community about Kcira’s remarks.
“The Archdiocese did look into the situation and Father Kcira himself took another look at the tape,” said Joe Kohn, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Detroit, which planned to release a videotaped apology by Kcira on Friday night to YouTube.
Kcira did not return phone calls from The Detroit News.
In a text of the archdiocese videotape, Kcira says he used “provocative names” to describe the massacre victims.
“That wasn’t right,” he says. “That was my anger talking … not my heart.”
Kcira further adds: “In expressing my anger, I used what an English teacher would call hyperbole, an exaggeration used for effect … to make my point.”
Kohn added that Kcira, who has been pastor of St. Paul’s Albanian Catholic Church for the past two decades, has done a lot of work in the Albanian community and has “earned the respect” of Albanians across interfaith lines.
Dawud Walid, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Michigan said Kcira owes the Albanian- Muslim community in Metro Detroit an apology and that actions should be taken against the priest by his superiors.
“He should be sanctioned for this irreligious speech,” said Walid. “We’ve received complaints about him before going back to 2008.”
Walid added that “in no way do we think this one pastor represents the sentiments of the Archdiocese of Detroit.”
“We’ve always had good relations with them,” added Walid.
Imam Shuaib Gerguri of the Albanian American Muslim Society of Detroit, based in Harper Woods, said, “People are angry (over Kcira’s remarks) and it’s not just Muslims.”
“I’m trying to understand myself what people did to him for him to call them dogs,” said Gerguri, who said he had close family members and friends who were killed by the Milosevic regime.
Gerguri urged Kcira to apologize as soon as possible.
“This kind of language is unaccepted by any religion,” Gerguri said.