Forced marriage in Germany: Turkey, Serbia, Kosovo leading the list (by Muhamet Brajshori, SE European Times, Jan. 11)

According to a report by the German Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, forced marriage primarily affects young Muslim women. Of those forced into marriage 83.4% were Muslim, nearly a third were 17 or under, while 40% fell between the ages of 18 and 21.

Many of the victims were threatened with violence and even death.

As for the parents of these young women, the most common country of origin is Turkey at 44%, followed by a combined area of Serbia, Kosovo and Montenegro, then Iraq and Afghanistan.

There are nearly 3 million Turkish immigrants in Germany, making them the largest non-German ethnic group in the country.

Social workers and other experts are concerned that the countries of Southeast Europe figure so prominently.

Burbuqe Llapashtica, head of the Kosovar Cultural Centre in Hamburg, tells SETimes that the findings surprised her. She says that measures must be taken in Kosovo and elsewhere in the region.

“I did not expect it, [We did!] but surely due to the high number of migrants from the region it is a fact. German legislation is good enough, offering … strong protection for victims, but those ‘crimes’ happen in the home countries where legislation is weak,” Llapashtica says. […]

In other “unexpected” news about Kosovo…

Kosovo Turns Blind Eye To Illegal Mosques (by Besiana Xharra, Balkan Insight, Jan. 13)

An illegal construction boom that has carpeted Kosovo’s cities and villages with unlicensed buildings is not confined to homes and shops.

A survey of Kosovo municipalities by Balkan Insight has revealed that more than 100 mosques have been built without planning permission in the past ten years.

To date, action has been taken against just one illegal mosque and local authorities told Balkan Insight they are hesitant about committing themselves to removing such buildings in the future.

The Islamic Community of Kosovo, BIK, through various funding channels, has been reconstructing 113 war-damaged mosques, as well building as 155 new places of worship, since 1999. An investigation by Balkan Insight can reveal that almost all have been erected illegally. [Really? In our lawless Kosovo?]

“We have repaired or rebuilt 113 of those [mosques] 218 destroyed during the war,” says Sabri Bajgora of the BIK. “Besides those, we have also built another 155 news mosques by the end of 2010, and are currently building another 20.”

Balkan Insight has researched the situation in Kosovo’s seven largest municipalities: Pristina, Prizren, Urosevac/Ferizaj, Pec/Peja, Djakovica/Gjakova, Gnjilane/Gjilan and Mitrovica.

Each town or city hall acknowledged that illegal mosques have been erected under their jurisdiction, especially in rural areas, though some refused to provide exact figures.

Prizren, city of illegal minarets:

Prizren is fabled for its ancient Ottoman architecture, but is now becoming better known for its skyline of garish illegal minarets that have been springing up since 1999.

It’s nice of Balkan Insight to catch up to Chris Deliso’s 2007 book “The Coming Balkan Caliphate“:

Kosovo’s Albanian leaders have sought to reassure the West, and especially Israel, that an independent Kosovo will present no threat of Islamic radicalism. And with the past couple weeks of constant cameras panning over a province awash in American flags, while helpful Western journalists make a point of witnessing Muslim Albanians drinking beer, the average reader might be forgiven for believing them. The reality, however, is more complex…In every case, it only takes a radicalized minority to present a problem. To claim that Kosovo does not have such a population, let alone to deny that it is slowly increasing, is simply whistling in the dark…The establishment of strong cross-border logistical networks, ‘safe houses’ and propaganda channels blossomed after August 1999, when the United Nations began administering Kosovo following NATO’s bombing campaign. At that point, Wahhabi proselytizers from the Arab world descended on Kosovo in force.

…American and European police investigators and advisers within Kosovo’s UN administration have noted a slow yet steady increase in the number of committed Islamists being inserted into positions of influence within the Kosovo governmental bureaucracy…Indeed, regardless of what its leaders may say, the Islamist internationale sees a definite opportunity in the new Kosovo.

Albanians, whether from Albania, Kosovo, or Macedonia, have scoffed at the idea of a major religious fundamentalist incursion in their midst. So have their Western yes-men. The West heavily backed the Kosovo Liberation Army during the NATO bombing, despite the presence of mujahedin in its ranks, and for Western publics to suspect that this cause has been muddled up with an Islamist one would amount to a public relations disaster for both Clinton-era political veterans and for the Albanians themselves. Indeed, it would call into question the entire rationale for Western intervention in Kosovo.

Although both then and now the vast majority of Muslim Albanians are neither radical nor pro-Arab, as in Bosnia, a small but stubborn Wahhabi movement was being established…

Back to Balkan Insight:

The city council told Balkan Insight that 70 per cent of the mosques in the city had no planning permission. Kosovo’s Islamic community said Prizren is home to the highest number of mosques in the country, 77. [Prizren, huh. Hmm. Hmmm. ]

If the municipal figures are accurate, this would put the number of illegal mosques in Prizren at 54. Director of urban planning Sadik Paçarizi said: “Of all religious objects, such as Catholic or Orthodox churches, mosques are those that violate the law most.

About 70 per cent of mosques in the municipality have no building permit.” He added that a plan had been drawn up to knock down the illegal mosques but had been shelved pending a resolution of the broader problems of illegal builds in the city.

Gjilan mayor Qemajl Mustafa admits that in his municipality almost all mosques built since the war lack building permits. But he said that since he became mayor in 2007 the situation had improved.

“From the time I became mayor, this phenomenon has stopped because we have made an agreement with BIK on this issue,” he said. “Now they apply for permits before starting to build any new mosque,” Mustafa added.He confirmed that no illegally built mosque had been destroyed, however.

In the western city of Gjakova, not a single illegal mosque has been tackled since the end of the 1999 conflict.

“The reason I didn’t want to destroy any of these illegal buildings is because such buildings are considered sacred and of benefit to citizens,” Gjakova mayor Pal Lekaj said.

Officials at Ferizaj and Mitrovica declined to comment on the issue.

“Pristina municipality has given permission for the restoration of mosques, but not for new ones,” he added.The issue is particular[ly] sensitive in Pristina as the Islamic community this year has protested about the municipality’s failure to find what they consider a suitable spot for a new city-centre mosque.

They complain that their situation is markedly different to that of the city’s small Catholic community. The city hall offered them a prime location for a new cathedral, which opened last year.

Muhamet Gashi said that the municipality had already issued the BIK a permit to build on a large plot on the edge of the city centre. But the BIK has so far rejected this.

“The site [offered] near the PTK [Post and Telecommunications] is not good because it is a small site and is not in the centre,” he said. “The best place to build a big mosque remains near Pristina University, in front of the Albanology Institute.

Behxhet Shala, director of the Council for Human Rights, says the reason why Kosovo mayors have not tackled illegal mosques is that it could be construed as an attack on religious freedom.

Sabri Bajgora of the BIK admits that mosques have been built without planning permission.

“To be honest, mostly in villages, some mosques are built without permission from municipalities. But no mosque is built without our permission,” he said. Bahri Sejdiu, head of the BIK for Pristina, also admits that most mosques in the city centre have no building permit, but blames the municipality for the omission.

“Most Pristina mosques have been built without permission because the municipality sits on such requests for months,” Sejdiu said.

Closing with some related excerpts from recent years, to bring the slowly awakening Balkan Insight up to speed. From Hiding Genocide in Kosovo (2007):

[W]hen I visited the village [of Cernica] after the Kosovo-wide pogrom of March 2004, I went to the church and found that it was protected by US KFOR. There were three pleasant young soldiers from California and one from Florida. They seemed a little lost perched as they were on a hilltop beside a newly restored church that they had to defend. Three California surfers and a Miami beach veteran who really did not know where they were or for that matter why. From that vantage point a large new mosque dominated the horizon and they asked me and the people with me if we had built the mosque. I was a little surprised by the question and assured them that we had not and pointed out to them that it was likely enough that like all the new mosques in Kosovo the money almost certainly came from Saudi Arabia and other Wahhabi countries. They seemed a little perplexed with this news as if hearing of such a possibility for the first time.

From NPR, Oct. 2010:

…One of the countries most at risk is Kosovo, where unemployment is running at 45 percent.

“What I saw during the past 10 years was a strong infiltration of Saudi money,” says Flaka Surroi, owner of the independent Koha Media. “They brought in the mosques, they brought in their dogma and ideology at the same time. They identified the poorest people in the communities, they offered them a steady salary every month just so they take over the ideology and start wearing the veil.”

The Hasan Beg mosque in Kosovo’s capital Pristina is brand new and Saudi-financed.

At midday Friday prayers, there’s an overflow crowd of mainly young people — both bearded men and veiled women. They are reluctant to talk to foreign reporters.

Traditionally in Kosovo, religion was not very important. But the dire state of the economy combined with growing poverty and corruption is inspiring many people to turn to religion.

Kosovo authorities were caught by surprise by a recent demonstration in which thousands of people protested against the education ministry’s ban on headscarves in public schools.

Ilir Deda is one of the co-founders of a new reformist political party that aims to fight corruption and impose rule of law.

“The institutions have not dealt with this issue,” he says. “Radical Islam is mid- to long-term one of the biggest dangers for Kosovo, because they are aiming to change our social fabric.”

Deda says that in the past decade, Middle Eastern charities have invested some $800 million in Kosovo…

From an American soldier who served in Kosovo:

5. Islamic extremism is on the rise in Kosovo. KFOR soldiers have been attacked in Gjilan, Ferizaj, and Prizren when I was there. You just won’t see or hear about it in the news. More Mosques have been built in Kosovo in the last five years than schools, roads, health clinics, and all other sanitation project[s] combined. Compliments of Muslim charities from the Middle East.

6. Mass graves of Kosovo Serbs and Roma have been found during my rotation and reported to the UN. Yet nothing has been done. Why? When we posed the question to our UN contacts in Pristina they replied: “During the transitional stage of Kosovo this would be destabilizing. We’ll wait until there is a final resolution before we proceed.” All those journalists interested in a real story…start looking in around Novo Brdo.

From New Europe in Sept. 2007 (reprinted on The Examiner website in Oct. 2009 as “Kosovo Fast Becoming Next Fertile Breeding Ground for Jihadi Terrorists” ), “Wahhabism Tightening Grip Over Kosovo…Independence May Help Terrorism Flourish”:

…It will not be long after the “independence” of Kosovo that the Kosovoan version of “Muttawa,” the religious police since 1926 of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia that enforces prayer five times a day, monitors mobile SMS and arrests women for failing to cover themselves completely, will be a reality on the streets of Kosovo. One look at the local media reports in Kosovo and neighbouring arena will suffice to convince any sceptic about the dangers of Wahhabism form of Islam…

Two recent explicit cases involving Wahhabis in Kosovo can be put forward in addition to every day media reports of Wahhabis being arrested, exchanging fire with law-enforcing agencies or simply taking over mosques that have been there for hundreds of years in Turkish style and converting them to conform to Wahhabi way of architecture and worship. The first case is in the Gazimestan area which has historic values with a famous medieval battlefield dating back to 1389, stretching from Pristina to Mitrovica. In addition to the remains of Serbian Prince Lazar and Ottoman Sultan Murad, there in the vicinity are two shrines called “Turbe” existing for hundreds of years and have never got disturbed until recently when these were vandalised.

According to local reliable sources who wanted to remain anonymous for obvious reasons, it was allegedly the work of Wahhabis as they believe tombs should not be kept as shrines…

Another important case that did stir strong local resentment happened in Prizren, an old historic town that has a history of multiethnic population represented by an Orthodox Church, a Catholic Church and a Mosque, more than 350 years old from the days of Ottoman Empire. According to local sources, the mosque was getting refurbished with Saudi money and the new Imam allegedly preaches Wahhabism. The local Muslim population is disgruntled with the actions of the new Imam who without consultations first made living quarters for himself as an extension of the ancient Mosque and then replaced “irreplaceable” decorative wooden work on the inside ceiling and other parts with new aluminium frames thus the Mosque lost forever its historic heritage.

Another practice that is prevalent in Kosovo today is Wahhabis allegedly paying poor people to wear visible signs of Islam. According to local sources the alleged rate today varies from 100 Euro to 300 Euro per month depending on how much of face or body is covered in Islamic clothing.

Money talks and it sure does as is evident with its contribution to the replacement of moderate Islam in Kosovo with the financing of “Islamic studies” trips for youngsters. After a stint of such religious learning abroad in Saudi Arabia or Egypt, lasting around six to 12 months, the youngsters upon returning back in Kosovo sport Islamic beards and robes instead of their jeans.

Watching those alarming signs in Kosovo, socio-religious pundits and political observers warn that slow but steady moderate Islam with its Turkish roots is on its way out and with the talk of independence in Kosovo picking up, soon the days when girls sport western clothes will be history…

By supporting…Kosovo’s independence, many Western governments are unwittingly working to carve out a safe haven for criminality and fundamentalist Islam in the heart of Europe.

It’s time to rethink Kosovo independence: another Taliban in the making and this time right in the heart of European Continent from where it will be easier not only to strike in Europe but also travel across the Atlantic.

From Jim Jatras, Director of American Council for Kosovo:

Over 150 churches and monasteries have been destroyed, with crosses and icons of Christ attracting particular vandalistic rage, a testament to Kosovo Albanians’ supposed secularism and pro-Western orientation.

Hundreds of new Saudi-funded mosques fomenting the extreme Wahhabi doctrine have sprung up. Kosovo is visibly morphing from part of Europe into part of the Middle East. In contrast to Under Secretary Burns’ cheerleading, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton has warned: “Kosovo will be a weak state susceptible to radical Islamist influence from outside the region, with the support from some Albanians, in other words, a potential gate for radicalism to enter Europe.” If allowed to consolidate, an independent Kosovo would become a way station toward an anti-American, anti-Israel, anti-Christian “Eurabia.”

The phenomenon has of course long spread to Macedonia. From Deliso’s Caliphate again:

…[I]n Macedonia’s southwestern town of Struga, an ethnically mixed tourist destination on Lake Ohrid whose civil administration changed from Macedonian to ethnic Albanian control…permission was given to remove a small Ottoman mosque, which had been built over a Byzantine church, replacing it with a huge, Saudi-style mosque…Built very close to a hotel on Struga’s placid lakeshore, the new mosque’s well-amplified minaret blasts out the call to prayers five times a day, something that has irritated local non-Muslims and, significantly, foreign hotel guests. As a manager at one hotel on the shore opposite the mosque sadly conceded, “the European tourists coming for a quiet vacation get jolted out of bed by the noise coming from the mosque…and don’t return.” When asked whether such a policy was fair to non-Muslims, an imam at the Islamic Community of Struga…suggested that music wafting from cafes in the evenings was equally offensive to Muslims.

From DEBKAfile: “New Jihadist Army Forming in Balkans” (June 24, 2002)

The next radical Islamic terror attack in America could well originate in a corner of the Balkans, where a new jihad force is taking shape quietly and unhindered. In its last issue, published on Friday, June 21, DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military sources reported that close to 20,000 fighters, battled-hardened veterans and eager young recruits, are already under arms, with more joining up all the time.

An Islamist bloc of nations…made up of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, al Qaeda and Hizballah, with active Palestinian support - is behind the new Muslim Balkan army. Saudi, Iranian and Iraqi intelligence services and al Qaeda operations officers in Macedonia, Kosovo, Bosnia and Albania are tasked with recruitment, training and organization. The units are armed with modern weaponry, including missiles and artillery, while handpicked young Muslim recruits have been sent to sign up at private flying schools, especially in the CzechRepublic and Bulgaria, as the nucleus of an air force.

Recruitment is brisk among the ethnic Albanian Muslim populations of Kosovo, Macedonia and Bosnia, as well as Albania proper. Hundreds of mosques are sprouting in these countries, funded from deep Saudi pockets. The mosques open cultural societies to attract boys aged 15 to 16 and enroll them at medressas which, like their Pakistani prototypes, integrate military training in their curricula.

Each mosque has its Saudi imam, who takes orders from Saudi intelligence. The military instructors are Iranian and Iraqi officers, as well as al Qaeda commanders who fought the Americans in Afghanistan…A month later, [the best recruites] are given uniforms and personal weapons, which they take home and hide. Drilled into them is the consciousness that their wages depend on perfect obedience to their instructors and religious mentors.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards (Pazdaran) have set up a logistical command center in the Iranian embassy in Skopje [Macedonia] to coordinate the swelling movements of Iranian, Iraqi and Saudi instructors, organizers, couriers and bagmen in and out of the Balkans, usually from the Middle East. Most of the Saudis are al Qaeda operatives who fought in Afghanistan.

Until recently, they all traveled to the Balkans by indirect routes, careful not to draw attention to themselves, especially from agents of the US intelligence services attached to US Special Force contingents based in Kosovo and Bosnia. When they saw that no US intelligence service appeared interested in their activities, the travelers began to throw caution to the winds, freely using Skopje’s international airport for their comings and goings.

Our sources have failed to turn up any hand obstructing the emergence of the Balkan Muslim terrorist force, although…the movement [is] dedicated to violent assault against the West, primarily the United States.

The government of the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia, headed by its president Boris Trajkovski, is painfully aware of the threat. But, 11 months after concluding a ceasefire with Albanian insurgents, its army can scarcely stand up alone to the youthful terrorist force, led by professional Saudi, Iranian and Iraqi military instructors as well as al-Qaeda terror experts.

As a provisional containment measure, the Macedonian government has secretly closed the country’s borders to the passage of goods to and from Kosovo, Bosnia and Albania, hoping to block the flow of weapons and ammunition supplies to the Muslim army. But it is probably too late to have much effect. Nevertheless, Macedonian forces are believed to be preparing to go into the regions taken over by the Jihadist force for the urgent but hopeless task of flushing [it] out…

From The Sunday Times (of London): “Saudis fund Balkan Muslims spreading hate of the West”

SAUDI ARABIA is pouring hundreds of millions of pounds into Islamist groups in the Balkans, some of which spread hatred of the West and recruit fighters for jihad in Afghanistan.

According to officials in Macedonia, Islamic fundamentalism threatens to destabilise the Balkans. Strict Wahhabi and Salafi factions funded by Saudi organisations are clashing with traditionally moderate local Muslim communities.

Fundamentalists have financed the construction of scores of mosques and community centres as well as handing some followers up to £225 a month. They are expected not only to grow beards but also to persuade their wives to wear the niqab, or face veil, a custom virtually unknown in the liberal Islamic tradition of the Balkans.

Government sources in traditionally secular Macedonia (official title the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), said they were monitoring up to 50 Al-Qaeda volunteers recruited to fight in Afghanistan.

Classified documents seen by The Sunday Times reveal that Macedonian officials are also investigating a number of Islamic charities, some in Saudi Arabia, which are active throughout the Balkans and are suspected of spreading extremism and laundering money for terrorist organisations.

“Hundreds of millions have been poured into Macedonia alone in the past decade and most of it comes from Saudi Arabia,” said a government source. “The Saudis’ main export seems to be ideology, not oil.”

Sulejman Rexhepi, leader of the Islamic community in Macedonia, said a number of mosques had been forcibly taken over by radical groups. Four in central Skopje are no longer under the control of the official Islamic authorities. New imams claim they have been “spontaneously” installed by the “people”.

Bekir Halimi, an imam trained in Syria, runs Bamiresia, an Islamic charity that has been investigated for alleged terrorist links and money laundering. Police raided its offices but failed to find any evidence of terrorist links.

“We are fully entitled to receive funding from both governmental and non-governmental organisations from Saudi Arabia,” said Halimi, who refuses to name the sources of his funding but rejects any suggestion of criminal activity.

Macedonia’s law enforcement agencies warn that the European Union and America have failed to recognise the growing problem of Islamic extremism in the Balkans.

Baroness Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief, has declared stability in the region to be her top priority, but local politicians complain that the EU and Nato are reducing their presence in troublespots such as Bosnia and Kosovo.

In Macedonia, Fatmir, a former disc jockey, explained how he became an adherent of Salafism. The father of two has grown a beard and instructed his wife to wear a niqab. He now makes his living by selling Islamist literature. “Ours is the Islam of the 21st century,” he said.

Now, tell me again that Kosovo wasn’t jihad. What confuses people is that it was jihad-plus. (Check out the infiltrating Saudis complaining in 2000 of not getting NATO protection from the lawless Albanians. But I mainly refer to this aspect: “In Kosovo, an intolerantly violent nationalism (the Albanian flag) has its complement in the Islamic jihadism as Albanian mosques are springing up across the province while churches are being destroyed and looted” ; and this: “Kosovo Serb refugees at Obilic container camp live in containers donated by Russia. They were ethnic cleansed by Albanians. Hot in summer and freezing in winter, the people have little assistance. Some are handicapped, and other are aged. Since 1999, over 200,000 Kosovo Serbs have been ethnic cleansed by Albanians, over 1000 murdered. Many have had their land, livestock, houses and posessions violently expropriated from them by Albanians, with no protection of justice offered by NATO, the EU or UN who occupy the Serbian province. Meanwhile, UNICEF has spent billions of dollars renovating mosques in the province. )

From “Behind Kosovo’s Facade“:

The official response of US Government officials to questions about the role of jihadist and radical Islamist elements in the Kosovo Albanian independence movement is that it is an inconsequential phenomenon, and that most Albanians are secular nationalists. However, Western military intelligence officials have extensively documented the inroads made by jihadist/terrorist elements, and their presence throughout Kosovo, and links to global Islamist terror networks and narco-mafias is widely known. In many areas young Kosovo Albanians are being converted to the Wahabist faction, and are highly visible in their telltale short haircuts, beards, and ankle-length pants. As well, many Arabs are present from the Middle East and France, presumably leaders of jihadist cells. Moreover, anti-Western jihadist sermons are now a regular feature at many of the new mosques. Western military intelligence officials have stated that the findings of their investigations into the jihadist terror networks is routinely ignored or blocked by NATO, UN and US officials.

And Jatras again:

The myth of “moderate,” “secular” Kosovo Albanian society is persistent and misleading. Kosovo Albanians are overwhelmingly Sunni Muslims. Even as hundreds of Christian shrines have been destroyed since 1999, they have been replaced by hundreds of mosques paid for by Saudi Arabian and Gulf States money — complete with the Wahhabist ideological software that goes with them. Catholics, once up to five percent of Kosovo’s population, are now under one percent, and half of those are Croats living in Serbian enclaves.

Projecting pious hopes of “moderation” on supposedly secular Muslims because they drink alcohol, don’t wear veils, etc., is a dangerous misunderstanding of jihadist mentality. As expositors of jihadist ideology have pointed out, even an apostate Muslim, like Saddam Hussein or Gamal Abdel Nasser, when claiming to fight for a “nationalist” concept are really advancing the cause of Islam if leading the ummah against the kafirun. Just as Palestinian “nationalism” has morphed into a jihad movement, leaving no place for Christians (no matter how militant they are, like the terrorist George Habash), there will soon be no place for the tiny remnant of Albanian Catholics in a monoreligious Islamic Kosovo.