After shootings, Serbia looks for peace

Perhaps the most enduring streets protests of 2023 have been in Serbia, a country of nearly 7 million in southeast Europe. Since early May, after 19 children and young people were killed in two unrelated mass shootings just a day apart, tens of thousands of Serbs have rallied weekly in major cities under the slogan “Serbia against violence.”

Incredibly, 1 in 4 citizens has joined the protests and about half support them, according to one poll. And this is in a country with the world’s third-highest rate of gun ownership – after the United States and Yemen – and with relatively strict gun laws.

The staying power of the protesters reveals a society seeking solutions to the root causes of violence. “Serbia needs to stop and ask itself how far it has come and where and how it should go after this,” declared the country’s teachers union in June.

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