Faith vs science: Activists block Serbia from shifting Tesla’s remains to church from museum | world-news | Hindustan Times
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Faith vs science: Activists block Serbia from shifting Tesla’s remains to church from museum

Sixty years on, Tesla’s final resting place at the Nikola Tesla Museum has become a bone of contention.

world Updated: Jun 07, 2017 15:53 IST
Kartikeya Ramanathan
In accordance with the wishes Nikola Tesla and his family, his remains were placed in an urn at a Belgrade museum named after the scientist in 1957.
In accordance with the wishes Nikola Tesla and his family, his remains were placed in an urn at a Belgrade museum named after the scientist in 1957.(Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)

Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla, one of the greatest scientific minds ever lived, died in 1943 in New York, and in accordance with his and his family’s wishes, his remains were placed in an urn at a Belgrade museum named after him in 1957.

Sixty years on, Tesla’s final resting place at the Nikola Tesla Museum has become a bone of contention. The Serbian Orthodox Church wants his remains to be moved to the Church of St Sava in Belgrade, where many national heroes are buried.

A press release by the Serbian Orthodox Church on May 26 said that Tesla’s remains “do not belong with museum exhibits – this fact is a unique precedent and a disgrace.”

Church of St Sava in Belgrade where the Serbian Orthodox Church wants Tesla’s remains to be moved. (Reuters File)

‘The Leave Tesla Alone’ group, however, want the scientist’s and his family’s wishes to be upheld and for his remains to be right where they are.

“We will always be there to defend the wishes of Tesla and his heirs who wanted him buried at the Museum,” Marko Marjanovic, one of the group’s organisers, was quoted by Balkan Insight as saying.

“They (the church) wish to appropriate him, but Tesla belongs to the entire world.”

The Leave Tesla Alone group was formed after the church’s first attempt to shift Tesla’s remains in 2014, after Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Irinej, the then outgoing energy minister Zorana Mihajlovic and then interim authority head Sinisa Mali signed an agreement to move the urn to St Sava.

However, the group organised protests and after thousands demonstrated against the decision, the move was quickly dropped.

The church made another attempt in 2015, posting a photograph of people sitting around Tesla’s urn, claiming they were holding a “satanic ritual”. However, that claim was quickly debunked, with museum director saying the photograph showed artists paying tribute to Tesla.

Marjanovic says his group will continue to block attempts to shift Tesla’s remains, accusing the church of merely wanting to promote St Sava as a major tourist attraction.

“They say Tesla should not be a part of a museum exhibition but they would make him part of a tourism exhibition,” Marjanovic said.