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Kosovo Says No to the Headscarf in Public Schools

12:00 PM, Apr 14, 2010 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
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If the headscarf debate has yet to be resolved in Kosovo, the republic's authorities seem to want their Muslim youth to understand that religion will not be a basis of discrimination--either for or against Islam.  

The Kosovar Muslims have experienced years of propaganda against them in Europe and the U.S. claiming they are jihadists. But on the headscarf as well as in responding to radical missionizing, they are building a necessary barrier to Islamist ideology. In addition to their notable devotion to the United States, their rescuers from Serbian aggression more than a decade ago, the Kosovar Albanians are taking the lead in defining an authentic but anti-extremist European Islam. 

Kosovo is still poor and underdeveloped, having suffered from years of institutional neglect and corruption among the foreign personnel sent there by the U.N. and EU after the 1999 NATO bombing of Serbia. The Kosovars and Bosnians anticipated the fate that seems to face Americans under President Barack Obama, in providing opportunities for misguided and frivolous efforts at social engineering. 

For example, the foreign rulers of Kosovo have ignored privatization of the former Communist economy while wasting billions of dollars on programs designed to reconcile the Kosovars with their Serbian neighbor by slicing up the republic's territory and assigning some of its richest areas to control by local Serbs. In a notable and disturbing example, the Norwegian diplomat Kai Eide served until this month as the top UN representative in Afghanistan, and has dedicated himself to promoting negotiations with the Taliban. Eide graduated to this post after a disgraceful career in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo. In the latter republic, he introduced the plan for permanent establishment of Serbian enclaves--a harbinger of his mischief in Kabul.

Eide and other professional advocates of accommodation with evil should never have been sent to the Balkans and should be removed from authority in Afghanistan. The lesson of the headscarf in Kosovo may, sooner or later, be learned in other Muslim countries--that is, local people often know better what is better for them than foreign "do-gooders" whose ignorance and arrogance opens the door to malign influence.

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