The violent separation of Kosovo from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1999 and the declaration of her independence from Serbia in 2008 created many hopes for the Albanian Muslims of Kosovo. After 95 years of separation from the Ottoman Empire, they hoped that the time had come for them to enjoy their own state and long denied freedoms which they had lost under the regime of Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia. However, independence from Serbia in 2008 did not help Muslim ethnic Albanians to create a state as they wanted, nor realize their long dream for independence. The conditions of Muslim Albanians in post-Yugoslav Kosovo have deteriorated in every aspect. Many of them dream of the days of Tito’s Yugoslavia, when they enjoyed economic prosperity and freedom of movement in the world, even though religiously they were discriminated as in the present time.
Even though the census of 2011 states that Muslims make 95.60% of Kosovo’s population, when the Kosovars had their constitution written by the United Nations Special Envoy Martti Ahtisari in 2008, they found out that the Western designers of their state had excluded Islam from their constitution. As the state of Kosovo started to mature, Muslims witnessed that Islam was being excluded from every aspect of their daily lives. In 2008 they saw the first cases of dismissals of hijab-wearing teachers from public schools, and two years later, Enver Hoxhaj, the minister of Education, Science, and Technology, issued an administrative instruction by which his Ministry legalized the official expulsion of hijab-wearing students in all the schools of the new state.
While Muslims and Islam were excluded from public life in the Kosovar Republic, its American installed rulers have shown open contempt against Islam and their practicing Muslim citizens. The president of Kosovo, Atifete Jahjaga (who was appointed in her position by the US ambassador in Prishtina, Christopher Dell) is one such an example. She has on more than one occasion insulted Muslims and Islam, and has openly declared that the national hero of Kosovo is Scanderbeg “who fought for civilization and European Christianity against the Ottoman Empire and Islam.”i She has also attacked Islam’s holy law, the Shariah, while defending Lek Dukagjini’s Catholic Canonic law, and claiming that the Shariah was imposed on the Albanians by “Ottoman invaders”.ii
Islam has not been attacked by the new Albanian rulers of Kosovo only, but even by many EU and American sponsored media outlets, NGOs, and a number of “civil society” actors that the US administrators, Soros and the European Union have formed and/or funded after the war. In an interview that Kosovo’s Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj gave to Zeri newspaper on January 2, 2014,iii he declared quite frankly that the government of Kosovo did not want to see any Islam in the state. He explained that in order to put an end to the revival of Islam in the country, his government was being helped by the foreign presence (read: EU and American embassies that rule the country) which through their:
“… political projects, through a very professional media, the civil society, and their investments have created a social engineering situation in the Republic of Kosovo.”iv
Kosovo’s Foreign Minister went on to explain that in order to de-Islamize the country, he had adapted a militant version of laicism:
"I think that secularism has been a sacred value for the state of Kosovo, in the past, and at the present. The reason why I have decided to prohibit the headscarfs (in the schools), is to testify my personal commitment towards the secular state… and what we should do, is to try and stop any connection between nationalism and the religious elements. "v
The “foreign presence”, which refers to NATO through the KFOR mission,vi the European Union, the American government and their agencies, have transformed Kosovo into a NATO colony, which although no longer takes orders from Belgrade, it is now commanded from Brussels and Washington. The “foreign presence” has invested millions of dollars to create its own mediavii and civil society, through which it attacks on daily basis the Muslim traditions of Kosovars, as well as other disobedient groups and minorities. Since religious Kosovar Muslims, like the Serbs, are perceived as a problem for the grand geo-strategy of NATO in the Balkans, they are continuously branded and insulted as terrorists, Wahhabis, “Arabs”, a security threat, foreign imports and “leftovers of Turkey”. The practicing Muslims who perceive themselves as Muslims first and see their identity connected to the Ottoman past, the Muslim Ummah, Turkey, etc, and refuse the Catholic myths of Greater Albanian nationalism – like those associated with Scanderbeg, Mother Theresa etc that the new Kosovar state has imported from Albania - are accused by the media as traitors, anti-Europeans, “Turks”, and agents of Turkey and Serbia etc. Some Muslim Kosovars have even been imprisoned for desecrating these Catholic symbols.viii
Even though the political conditions for being a Muslim in postwar Kosovo are not favorable, many Kosovars have nevertheless rediscovered their roots and faith. Many of them, who feel themselves to be Muslim first and reject the Catholic myths of Albanian nationalism, have demanded from the “foreign presence” and their politicians to show more respect for their culture and religion. The Muslim Community of Kosovo, which administers the country’s mosques and is the main body that represents Islam in the country, has demanded from the politicians to allow the Kosovars to learn their religion in public schools, be allowed to build a big mosque in Prishtina and to allow hijab-wearing women to pursue their studies and work in the public sector. However, their demands and especially their desire to teach Islam to Muslim children in public schools have been ignored and vehemently rejected by the Catholic and Protestant Churches, the “Foreign Presence” and laicist Kosovar rulers. The Kosovar government, which prohibits its Muslims to learn Islam in their public schools, has instead entrusted the teaching of religion for the children of Kosovo to the infamous Islamophobe, Tony Blair, through his “Tony Blair Faith Foundation”.ix
The assertion of the Islamic roots by many Kosovars after the NATO invasion of 1999 has upset the “foreign presence” of Kosovo and those secular politicians whom the Americans brought to power after the war. They thought that the Kosovars wanted to separate themselves from Serbia only because they were Albanians, and not because they were even Muslims. However, the Islamic tendency of the bulk of the Kosovar population, their mass following of mosques and evangelizing imams is creating big headaches for NATO-s geo-strategy in Southeastern Europe. Their annoyance with Kosovars’ rediscovery of Islam can be understood when someone sees the reactions of the media that the Americans sponsor in Prishtina, their ambassadors, top NATO commanders, or the declarations of NATO-ist politicians like the suspected war criminal Ramush Haradinaj, who has openly called the bearded Muslims of Kosovo “filthy” and promised to persecute them after coming to power.
The Muslim identity of the Kosovars is attacked in every aspect of life in post-Yugoslav Kosovo. One example can be found in the public spaces of the new republic. After the separation from Serbia, Kosovo’s new rulers and the “foreign presence” were very quick not only to de-Yugoslavize and Albanianize almost every street and institution of Kosovo, but even to Catholicize many public spaces. In Kosovo’s capital, Prishtina, where Catholics number just a few hundreds, they were rewarded with a permission to build a huge Cathedral in the very entrance of the city since 2007.x At the same time, the Muslims were denied permission to build a big mosque and the Orthodox community has been forewarned that their Orthodox Cathedral may be demolished.xi The Catholic Cathedral “Mother Theresa” has become a major cornerstone of post-Yugoslav Prishtina, where its NATO backed Albanian rulers go every Christmas to pray (but never attend prayers at mosques during the festival of Bayram and Ramazan, even though they are Muslims). The main squares of Kosova have also been taken over by Catholic saints. In the capital Prishtina, its two main boulevards are named after Mother Theresa and the “NATO saint” Bill Clinton. Mother Theresa, Scanderbeg, Pjeter Bogdani, Gjergj Fishta and other anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic crusaders have their squares and boulevards in almost all the major cities of Kosovo. However, no public square or street has been dedicated to Kosovo’s Ottoman past or any of its Muslim rulers or saints – like Sari Saltik Dede, Sheh Albani, sultan Murat, Bayazit, Abdulhamit II etc.
The process of Catholicization of the identity of the Albanian majority is ongoing even in the public school system of Kosovo. Kosovar children are taught that their original religion is Catholicism and Islam was imposed to them by the Turks. In the school textbooks they learn that Islam is the religion of “barbaric Turks” who invaded their country, raped their women and forcefully Islamized them, while Catholicism and its activists are depicted as true Albanian patriots, representatives of European civilization, humanism and the original faith of the Kosovars.xii As Anna di Lellio notes in her book The battle of Kosovo 1389: an Albanian epic, the process of Christianizing and Albanianizing anti-Turkish heroes of Kosovo is done in order to install a Christian identity against Islam by her new rulers.xiii
It is an open secret in Kosovo, known by all Albanians and admitted to by the press, that the most powerful persons in today’s Kosovo are not its “democratically” elected parliamentarians, nor the president or the prime-minister, but the American ambassadors. They decide who will be appointed president,xiv prime minister, how the new governments should be formed, and how Kosovar politicians should resolve their disputes.xv They decide even for the theological forms of Islam that the Kosovars should practice as well as which imams are good and which ones are deviant and should be removed from the mosques.xvi
However, the Americans and their ambassadors are not consistent in their theological preaching to the Kosovars. When the Arab spring started and NATO was in need of al-Qaeda volunteers to fight its war against Syria, they ordered the Kosovar government to host a number of Syrian jihadists in Prishtina. The jihadists who were led by Ammar Abdulhamid were instructed how to fight against the government of Bashar al-Assad and learn from KLA tactics during its war against Yugoslavia.xvii The Saudi and Qatari allies of America who encouraged many European Muslims to make jihad into Syria, poured big money in the Balkans in 2012-2013, through which they brainwashed and recruited many Albanian believers to go into Syria and topple “the Shi’ia” president Bashar al-Assad and “save the Sunnis”. The export of the Kosovar Jihadis into Syrian was supported even by the “foreign presence” (US and EU) of Kosovo and their media, who instead of condemning the Kosovars - who were committing a crime against the Syrian Arab Republic - and the many imams who were inciting hatred against the Shi’ias, Alevis and other sects of Islam - praised and described them as freedom-fighters or “Sunnis” who were fighting against Shi’ias / Alevis and the Kuffars. Radio Free Europexviii and many other Kosovar media praised their countrymen who volunteered to fight against “the Syrian dictator”.
However, when in 2013 the Americans changed their plans about Syria, their relation to Islam in Kosovo changed drastically. The “democratic freedom-fighters” against the “Syrian dictator” were suddenly branded as terrorists by Kosovo’s “foreign presence”. The imams who were brainwashing the Kosovars to wage jihad in Syria against the “Shi’ia of Assad” – suddenly became recruiters of extremists who were going to fight in Syria. The charge against the Muslim Community was led by the American ambassador herself who attacked many Kosovar imams for their inappropriate and chauvinistic language.xix In the International Religious Freedom Report of 2013, the US Department of State has even named four Kosovo imams whom it accuses of manipulating the elections for the leadership of the Muslim Community of Kosovo, attacks against other communities, women and one of them was accused for using anti-Semitic rhetoric.xx Strangely enough the Department of State report makes no mention of the sectarian and anti-Shi’ia language that many of these same imams used in their mosques throughout 2013 (since this rhetoric is used even by US officials themselves), but is concerned with their anti-Jewish rhetoric only. What is even more telling is the fact that the US Department of State and their embassy in Prishtina became “concerned” with the Kosovars going to fight in Syria only in 2013, while in its 2012 report, (when the bulk of the Kosovars went to fight) it decided to ignore these “politically correct” jihadists.xxi
The latest International Religious Freedom Report by the US Department of State has created big shockwaves in Kosovo. The president, the prime-minister and all the cabinet ministers have expressed their readiness to fight the “radicalism” of those Kosovar citizens whom these very same people encouraged to go and carry out “jihad” in Syria before. On July 30, 2014 Kosovo was visited by the Supreme Commander of NATO forces in Europe, Philip M. Breedlove who ordered the Kosovar leadership to take appropriate measures against their citizens who were involved with radical groups in Syria.xxii These developments have worried the Muslims of Kosovo, their imams and the whole structure of the Muslim Community who feel misused and betrayed by the “foreign presence” and the new rulers of post-Yugoslav Kosovo. Many religious Muslims feel cheated and angry with the new realities that they face in today’s Kosovo. On the one hand, the state which they thought would be theirs, in accordance with the principles of democracy – is not so. Through its militant secularism, public Catholicization, open discrimination of religious Muslims, massive poverty and corruption, maximal subservience to the American ambassadors and unending media attacks against Muslims, the new Kosovo regime does not seem much different from the regimes that Serbia used to install in Prishtina not very long ago. On the other hand, some Kosovo imams who were indirectly encouraged by their government to support the Arab spring and their “Sunnis” – now find themselves accused as supporters of terrorism. The new Kosovar state and its politicians have shown and continue to show only hostility towards the religion and tradition of the bulk of their people. Even though Muslims make 95.60% of the population, they are not allowed to learn about their religion in their schools, are not allowed to wear hijabs in public institutions, are insulted for being Muslim, are attacked and blackmailed when they want to create a Islamic political parties or actively participate in the civil society, and are faced with hostile attacks by the media and the “civil society” that the “foreign presence” has created and maintains in the country.
When NATO separated their province from Yugoslavia in 1999, the Kosovars thought that after 90 years of subjugation and dependence to Beograd, the time had finally come for them to live free and preserve their Muslim identity in Europe. Many others thought that they would create a Greater Muslim Albania. However, none of them came true and today, many Kosovars regret the good old days when they lived under Tito’s Yugoslavia. In these times they were economically much better. However, others would probably envy Vladimir Putin’s Chechnya. The Chechens who do not have any American ambassador or a “foreign presence” over them, are preserving their Islamic identity much better than the Kosovars are under the NATO-ist Kosovo.Güncelleme Tarihi: 13 Ağustos 2014, 17:49