Ah the problematic Islamic Community and its “traditional Kosovo ways.”

Kosovo Islamic Body Accused of Tolerating Extremists (Balkan Insight, Oct. 29)

At a round table in Kosovo, theologians and researchers criticized Saudi Arabia and Kosovo’s official Islamic Community concerning the rise of religious radicalism.

Ervin Qafmolla BIRN Pristina

A round table that sought to raise awareness of traditional Islam vs. religious extremism in Kosovo saw harsh accusations made at the expense of the Islamic Community of Kosovo, the BIK.

The event was held by “Fol Tash” (“Speak Now”), a Kosovar media portal run by moderate Islamic theologians, researchers and imams, who seek to explain traditional Islamic values as opposed to the violent practices of organisations such as the Islamic State.

Most of the participants felt that Kosovo’s official Islamic body had failed to prevent the growth of extremism and the emerging Wahhabist ideology backed by Saudi Arabian funds.

More than 200 fighters from Kosovo have reportedly joined the ranks of ISIS and Al Nusra in Syria and Iraq. Around 40 hardliners, including imams and alleged former fighters, are being tried in courts following a crackdown on suspected groups and individuals from autumn 2014 to spring 2015.

“Not jihad through war, but jihad through the pen is what we need [HUH?],” [Zuhdi Hajzeri, an imam from the city of Peja and editor of the website,] noted, explaining the common misinterpretation of the traditional Islamic concept of holy war.

Blerim Rama, from the police’s antiterrorism department, said that youngsters who pursue their studies in Saudi Islamic universities were a source of serious concern… “They are not guided by the principles and values of the Kosovo believers’ community,” Rama said.

[Oh, I think they got a good sense of the Kosovo believers’ community principles and values from its behavior in the 90s toward the non-Muslim infidels in its midst. (As ISbanian leader Lavdrim Muhaxheri pointed out.) They’re merely taking the behavior they observed to its logical conclusion.]

…While the security official said that their main partner in combating extremism “had to be” the BIK, other speakers did not agree.

… “The BIK is not doing its job to duly manage mosques, because 99 per cent of the participants in the war in Syria – both recruiters and the recruited – came out of these mosques,” Avni Islami, a researcher into security affairs and a practising Muslim, said.

Saudi funding for certain mosques and for the BIK itself was also described as a source of concern.

When BIRN contacted BIK spokesperson Ahmet Sadriu, he would not comment on any of the claims raised.

Some years ago the BIK issued an internal regulation that forbids imams from talking to the media. The move attracted criticism from journalists who viewed it as censorship and an obstacle to the fight against religious extremism.

Fol Tash’s website (foltash.com) is considered a media channel that bypasses BIK’s communication embargo, and allows moderate imams and scholars to talk to the general public without censorship.