Thursday, February 21, 2008

Stories ... Kosova

Taking a little break from the Independence euphoria, I started searching for stories and articles that might have been written about non-independence-related Kosovo matters (like the one below); considering there were tons of journalists here ... one or 2 might have been interested in other parts of life in Kosovo. It was a futile search. If you know of any, please send to me. As a bonus, I found this: Articles written when Kosovo was not famous...

It's 'Islam lite' as Kosovars shun extremist Muslim dogma
Faith in Islam can coexist with a fondness for a beer at the local in the country seen as Europe's bulwark against radicalisation

By William Kole
in Gnjilane, Kosovo

KASTRIOT Sadiku, 25, has a confession: like a good Muslim, he was near a mosque when Kosovo declared independence. But like a good Kosovar, he was just around the corner from it, sipping beer at his favourite pub. "In the entire Muslim world, I think that's probably something that can only happen here, where our religion doesn't interfere with the rest of our lives," he said.Much has been made of Kosovo's status as the world's newest mostly Muslim nation. But its secular government, religious leaders and faithful have carefully distanced themselves from the slightest hint of extremism.The fledgling Republic of Kosovo, they insist, embraces a decidedly laid-back version of Islam."Our Islam is 'lite' – like Coke Lite or Marlboro Light cigarettes," said Ilmi Krasniqi, an imam at one of five mosques in the eastern town of Gnjilane. "This is not Baghdad, and what goes on in Saudi Arabia cannot happen here."Agim Hyseni, the chief imam in Gnjilane, said Muslims in feverishly pro-United States Kosovo have distanced themselves from extremist ideology or acts. "The people here feel no empathy for those kind of acts," he said. "They know very well what terrorism is because they've suffered through so many terrorist acts."But if terrorism is a relative term in Kosovo, so is "Muslim".The Ottoman Turks imported Islam centuries ago, but it has npt saturated this society. Kosovo was Christian before, about 7 per cent of its ethnic Albanians are Catholics, and a large cathedral is being built in the heart of Pristina, the capital.The late president Ibrahim Rugova was fascinated with Roman Catholicism, and there were even unconfirmed reports after his death in 2006 that he had converted.Although the conflict pitted Albanian Muslims against Christian Orthodox Serbs, who consider Kosovo the cradle of their religion and national identity, it was a battle for turf – not a holy war."We've never had a Christian-Muslim conflict here," said Albulena Hoti, 20, strolling in Gnjilane beneath the flags of the United States, Britain and Germany – all among the first countries to recognise Kosovo after it declared independence on Sunday.Stephen Schwartz, the executive director of the Centre for Islamic Pluralism, a Washington-based think tank, contends that Kosovo will become a model of religious pluralism in Europe. "lbanian Islam is moderate, and constitutes a bulwark against radicalisation of European Muslims," he said."I don't think there's any other Muslim country in the world where there's so much Christian missionary activity that goes on undisturbed." Kosovo's conflict drew only a smattering of mujahideen – Islamic fighters from the Arab world – unlike the 1992-5 Bosnian war, where they came by the thousands to aid their Muslim brothers.Outside Gnjilane's main mosque, the crowd of young men included some with long, wiry beards. But they are quick to eschew the strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islam followed by al-Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden."I'm proud that our democratic and recognised country is first and foremost a very tolerant and secular state," said Fikret Morina, a 31-year-old Muslim tradesman. "The world has no reason to be afraid of us."

1 comment:

kujtim said...

"Lite" Islam, very funny term.Yet fair&true description of how most kosovars relate to their relegion and degree of religious tolerance that exists in Kosova.
Thanks Luna for posting the article.