The Blog

The Second Kosovo War

Ground zero in the fight against Wahhabism.

11:00 PM, Feb 2, 2009 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

A cleavage between young and old, according to the Wahhabi advocate, is owed to a youthful "desire to turn now to a completely Islamic life." Krasniqi rebuked Kosovar political leaders for creating a secular state, when, according to this Islamist bigot, "The state should not have denied the reality in Kosovo where 95 percent of the people are Muslims." Rather, he argued, the government (in which no religious parties are represented because none are popular or even taken seriously in Kosovo), should "promote" and "sponsor" Islam with public financing. He credited "God's guidance" for the beating of Osman Musliu and other incidents of Wahhabi violence, and, in a menacing manner, counseled that if the Kosovo Muslims accept the Wahhabi interpretation of religion, "everything will be much easier for you." As a Bosnian Muslim dissident scholar told me, "that is the Wahhabi interpretation of Islam as a religion of peace. Submit to their dictation and you will enjoy peace!" Finally, Shefqet Krasniqi, the Wahhabi missionary, like others of his breed, denied there were any Wahhabis at all in Kosovo! Like Communists in the West 50 years ago, Muslim radicals try to deny their identity even as they seek to defend it, because they know that many ordinary Muslims hate them.

Kosovar contempt for the Wahhabis, as expressed in online reactions to the assault on the moderate mullah, proved this point, and was profoundly heartening. The majority of commentators on the Express website supported Osman Musliu and indignantly repudiated Wahhabi ambitions in Kosovo. An unidentified reader in Sweden wrote, "Osman is right when he says that in Kosovo mosques some suspicious imams are preaching. These 'imams' use a language that is crude and hateful. I am not against the free practice of religion, but please . . . now we are suddenly surrounded by people who hate other religions. . . . The most rigid Muslim nations are trying to reform and move forward while we are going backward."

Most Arab states have declined to recognize an independent Kosovo--among leading Muslim countries, only Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Malaysia have established diplomatic relations with the new country. Even Bosnia-Herzegovina, also under Serbian pressure, has avoided doing so. Kosovo Muslims were recently barred from a meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the authoritative global Islamic forum, in Cairo. Reflecting these developments, an Albanian identified only as a "patriot" living in Germany wrote, "Better to live without the recognition of our independence by the Arabs than to allow the spread of this 'cancer' in Kosovo and throughout our Albanian lands." The same commentator repeated Musliu's condemnation of radical Islam as a worse problem than Serbian harassment. Other commenters mentioned significant evidence, circulating throughout the Balkans and far more substantial than the usual rumors, that the Saudi-backed Wahhabis and Serb radicals are conspiring together. (Similar claims are often, and credibly, heard in Russia about Wahhabi terrorists and Vladimir Putin's secret police.)

Dudi, living in Kosovo, contributed the following concise analysis: "The Albanians should read about the Wahhabis on line and they will find out everything about them. They are nothing but a mafia. . . . Kosovo is not Arabia. We are part of Europe and we intend to join Europe, and as for these Wahhabis, let them go live in Arabia."

A reader named Flutra, in Mitrovica, the northern Kosovo town where Serbs have lately relaunched a terror campaign, called the foray against the moderate mullah "an unprecedented catastrophe for all Albanians." Agon, in Pristina, the capital, appropriately condemned "Islamofascism, which these fundamentalists are trying to promote in Kosovo." A teacher from Western Kosovo addressed the Wahhabis bluntly: "You are not believers, you are criminals."

All that needs to be added is that that these events have been ignored in international media, and that while Britain is the frontline state against radical Islam in Western Europe, Kosovo is now the crucial battlefield in the Balkans. Both countries are friends of the United States, and our new administration should demonstrate the fresh approach to Islam announced by President Obama, by clearly siding with Muslim moderates under siege. A courageous cleric in a remote Balkan location, and his many defenders, should not be left on their own to carry on this struggle, which is a defense of all human civilization.

Stephen Schwartz is a frequent contributor to THE WEEKLY STANDARD.