Sanity Injection

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Archive for December 15th, 2008

Muslims who reject terror and religious hatred

Posted by sanityinjection on December 15, 2008

Two weeks ago I posted about the responsibility of Muslim communities to speak out against jihadism and terrorism and combat them within their ranks. I pointed out that Islamic terrorism will only die when would-be jihadis face derision, scorn, and ostracism from the Muslim community and find no financial support for their efforts.

I was originally going to post this as a comment on that blog entry, but it really deserves its own. The City Journal, a New York City conservative(!) quarterly, has a terrific piece out about the fledgling European nation of Kosovo. The overwhelming majority of Kosovars are nominal Muslims, but they are fiercely pro-American and have no sympathy for terrorists:

Some observers, especially in Serbia, have blamed the violence in 1999 and 2004 on Islamist jihadists. Those who live and work in Kosovo, and who are charged with keeping the peace, dismiss the allegation. “We’ve been here for so long and not seen any evidence of it that we’ve reached the assumption that it is not a viable threat,” says Zachary Gore, a U.S. Army sergeant stationed in eastern Kosovo…Religion in Kosovo is a private matter, not a public one.

There is, however, a small group of radicals inside Kosovo who would like to transform moderate Balkan Islam into the much sterner Wahhabi variety practiced in Saudi Arabia. Several well-funded Saudis and other Gulf Arabs moved to Kosovo after the 1999 war to rebuild destroyed mosques and to impose Wahhabism on the decadent locals. Most ethnic Albanians across the political and religious spectrum in Kosovo resent these intrusions, partly because ornate Ottoman-style mosques destroyed by the Serbian military are being replaced with severe Wahhabi-style monstrosities, but also because hardly any Albanians seek guidance from the backward and authoritarian Arab world. “We don’t call them Wahhabis here,” a well-connected Albanian woman tells me. “We call them Binladensa, the people of bin Laden.” In Kosovo, that isn’t a compliment.

“We never had them before,” a young Albanian journalist says. “We hear these rumors that they are paying people”—to visit mosques and cover their hair, that is. I can’t confirm the rumor, but it’s widely believed, and I heard it from almost a dozen people. If true, it means that even the tiny minority who are willing to adopt the outward trappings of conservative Islam will do so only if they’re paid. If false, the fact that so many believe it reveals a broad contempt for rigid Arabic Islam and a belief that Albanian culture will not bend naturally to it. “You should see how the general public receives these people,” says a Kosovo human rights official. “They certainly are not liked. I don’t think they will succeed.”

Wahhabis are encountering resistance from Kosovo’s religious community as well as from its atheists and agnostics. “We are working very hard to stop these kinds of movements,” says Hamiti. “These kinds of movements are dangerous for all nations, for the faiths, for all religions. The traditional Islam that has been cultivated in these areas is the best guarantee for the future. If we allow foreigners to come here and to push us to war with their ideas, then the situation will be out of our control.”

Tellingly, Kosovo’s only Islamist party got just 1.7 percent of the vote in the last election. Not even during the 1999 war, when ethnic Albanians were desperate for help, were Islamists welcome in Kosovo. Contrast this with Bosnia, which did accept help from mujahideen: after the European community imposed an arms embargo on all warring sides in Yugoslavia, leaving the barely armed Bosnians to twist in the wind, about 1,000 veterans of the anti-Soviet insurgency in Afghanistan streamed into the country. “In Kosovo,” Berisha says, “they came to support us and we rejected them. . . . This is not jihad. We are not fighting for religion here. We are fighting for our freedom, for ourselves, and for our families.”


If that isn’t amazing enough, Kosovo’s Muslims are strong supporters of Israel. They identify with Israelis as people surrounded by enemies. And they proudly point to the record of Albania, their ethnic mother country, during the Holocaust:  Jews in Albania had a 100% survival rate, as both Christian and Muslim Albanians refused to surrender them to the Nazis. In fact, the Jewish population of Albania actually tripled during the war as Jews found a unique refuge there.

Some will object that Kosovars aren’t really Muslims at all, being so Westernized and secularized, much as most Israelis are. But the point is that it is up to them to choose their path, and they have chosen a path of religious tolerance and rejection of extremism. So, too, have the majority of Muslims in Western countries, but they need to be as firm in inculcating these values into their communities as the Kosovars have.

Please take some time to read the full article here:

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